The United States is facing a pressing need for blood donations in the wake of Sunday’s Las Vegas shooting, but there is one group of Americans that is still not allowed to help — gay men.
Lance Bass took to Twitter on Monday to express his frustration over the Federal Drug Administration law that bans gay men from donating blood if they have had sex with another man within the past 12 months, according to Us Weekly.
How is it STILL illegal for gays to donate blood??!! I want to donate and I'm not allowed.
— Lance Bass (@LanceBass) October 3, 2017
The former NSYNC singer is openly gay and married to Michael Turchin, which prevents him from donating blood despite wanting to help.
The policy was first implemented in 1983 as a lifetime ban. This was during the beginning of the AIDS crisis,People Magazine reports. The FDA has said it made this decision based on years of research and data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the HIV virus.
A lot has changed since 1983, and now, the American Red Cross, the AABB (which used to be known as the American Association of Blood Banks) and America’s Blood Centers have all spoken out against the antiquated law, calling it “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”
The trio has been urging the FDA to change the policy for a while, calling for a policy that is “comparable with criteria for other groups at increased risk of sexual transmission of transfusion-transmitted infections.”
But the FDA is not budging. “At present, there are insufficient scientific data available to determine whether it is safe to rely only on individual behavioral risk factors when determining donation eligibility,” the FDA stated in a document on reducing the risk of HIV transmission by blood. There is also no such ban in place for women who have sex with other women.
But with 527 people injured in the attack, donations from all Americans are greatly needed, and those in the LGBT community are speaking out.
It is 2017.
We've had multiple humanitarian crises and mass shootings.
And gay folks still cannot immediately donate blood.
It is 2017. https://t.co/RC5LDTxI3r
— Mario (@mtehuitz) October 3, 2017
It infuriates me that gay & bisexual men can be turned away from donating blood in Las Vegas because of the @US_FDA's discriminatory policy.
— Shane Bitney Crone (@ShaneBitney) October 2, 2017
Others are simply lamenting the fact that they can't help.
rly wish i could donate my gay blood
— elijah daniel (@elijahdaniel) October 2, 2017
I woke up today. Went to donate blood to feel like I was doing something good for the world. I was denied because I'm a gay man.
— Colin Patrick Hanlon (@ColinHanlon) October 2, 2017
Here's hoping this will be the year that antiquated and homophobic restrictions on gay men (who just want to help victims of a national tragedies) will come to an end.