BREAKING: Human Rights Campaign Applauds FDA for Taking First Step Toward Dismantling Discriminatory Blood Donation Restrictions, Urges Biden Administration to Prioritize Removing Remaining Barriers

by HRC Staff

New Policy Expected to be Officially Announced by Administration on Friday

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Human Rights Campaign — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — applauded the Biden administration and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for taking an important first step toward dismantling antiquated and discriminatory policy preventing men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood. The new policy — which is being reported in news outlets but expected to be officially announced by the administration on Friday morning — moves away from discriminatory policy based on identity and toward a science-based, individualized risk assessment approach.

While the basic framework of the proposed guidance has broad support, LGBTQ+ advocates agree much more needs to be done to remove barriers.

“Today’s announcement represents an important first step toward dismantling an antiquated and discriminatory blood donation policy that restricts gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men from donating blood,” said Kelley Robinson, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “LGBTQ+ advocates and other health advocate leaders have worked for decades to pressure the FDA and other regulatory agencies to update policy and move toward adopting an approach rooted in science, not in identity. So while today’s announcement is a victory, it’s not the end of the road; there is much more that needs to be done, and we urge the Biden administration to prioritize removing remaining barriers and ask the FDA to move expeditiously while ensuring the safety of the blood supply and a blood donation policy in-line with the science.”

HRC has been at the forefront in the decades-long effort to update the policy, alongside other advocates. In 2020, HRC sent a letter to the FDA urging the agency to make swift changes to the policy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to thousands of blood drives being canceled across the country. HRC has repeatedly asked for changes to the federal policy on blood donations, since the FDA adopted its initial, discriminatory policy in 1983. Nearly 15 years ago in 2010, HRC renewed its call to change the policy to be more fully inclusive of LGBTQ Americans. In 2015, following a new change to the policy that required MSM to be abstinent for a year, HRC again affirmed that this approach was unacceptable.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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