Last week was the Lush Summit, a charity celebration for activists. Though there were many exhibits to see, one of the most shocking was the Lush blood bath. It was part of the #FreedomToDonate campaign, against the ban on men who have had sex with men (or MSM) donating blood.
In the United Kingdom, MSM were banned from donating blood until recently. The rules were relaxed twice. First, MSM couldn’t donate blood within 12 months of being sexually active. That requirement was then lowered to 12 weeks. In the United States, MSM must wait one year since their the last time they had sex.
The MSM blood ban is based in homophobia. However, the argument against letting MSM donate blood usually involves fears of HIV contaminating the blood supply. This is despite advanced screening procedures that can easily stop any HIV-infected blood entering the system. And, if it weren’t obvious, HIV is not an issue that only affects our community. (Or, as one commenter put it, “But straight ppl all over the world are eating the booty like grocery.”)
To combat the homophobic blood ban, Lush shared an image featuring a bathtub filled with “blood” — actually, red water from one of their bath bombs. The bath included a sign reading “This is the amount of blood a healthy gay man could donate in a lifetime. It would be enough to save 53 lives. #FreedomToDonate”
This is the amount of blood a healthy gay person could donate in a lifetime. It would be enough to save 53 lives. #FreedomToDonate #LushSummit
Though decreasing the time MSM have to wait before they can donate blood was welcomed by many LGBT activists, it should be seen not as an ending, but, as the UK activist group Stonewall said a “stepping stone.” Instead of banning MSM, there should be a system based on an individual’s own risk factors. A blanket ban merely keeps clean, healthy blood that could save lives out of the system.
Featured image via ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’blood donation London