Giving blood saves lives. It is something nearly everyone can do.
A lasting unfairness in our blood donation system is that some LGBT people cannot donate blood based on a blanket policy that doesn’t look at individual circumstances.
Fighting for true LGBT equality has been something I have done since I first got involved with politics.
Donating blood is a gift that 1 in 4 of us will rely on at some point in our life. By giving blood you can save the life of someone in need. But if you’re a gay man in the UK it’s not as easy to donate as it should be. I will be campaigning to change this.
That’s one reason I have backed the Freedom to Donate campaign. This week I was proud to be elected as Secretary for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Donation. This is a cross-party group of Labour, Conservative, SNP and Lib Dem MPs campaigning to change the law on blood donation so that gay men can give blood.
As UK blood donation rules currently stand, a gay man who has had sex with another man in the last 12 months cannot donate blood. This is despite a strong consensus that this can be reduced to as little as 3 months, yet the year-long limit remains in place.
Last year - before I was elected - the All Party Blood Group took evidence from health and medical professionals who told MPs that it would be safe and proportionate to lower the limit from 12 months to 3 months.
There are good reasons to lower the donation limit. The changed limit would increase blood donations, preserve the safety of donations and reduce an inequality in our society. There are lots of good reasons why this limit should be changed and I will now work alongside MPs from other parties to work for this change.
The results of the APPG’s inquiry into gay men donating blood will be published soon and I hope Ministers look at this work carefully. There’s an opportunity here to increase blood stocks and reduce inequality.
Follow the Blood group on Twitter to keep up to date with news about and latest progress.