Man drops challenge as blood ban lifted

The health minister’s decision to end the permanent ban on blood donations by gay men has lead to a young man withdrawing his High Court challenge to the ban.

Man drops challenge as blood ban lifted

Minister Simon Harris revealed the decision to remove the ban last month, days after the reform was recommended in a report by the board of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS). The ban was introduced in the 1980s when Aids became a major sexual health risk.

The lifting of the ban will allow men who have sex with men to donate blood a year after being sexually active or five years after they have been cleared of a sexually transmitted infection.

Yesterday, lawyers for Tomás Heneghan, aged 24, of Castlegar, Co Galway, told High Court Deputy Master Angela Denning his action was being withdrawn following the change of policy. Michael Lynn SC, for Mr Heneghan, said the case could be struck out with no order and with liberty to re-enter.

Outside court, Mr Heneghan said he was cautiously optimistic about the policy.

His solicitor Gareth Noble added they were anxious the change be implemented in a timely banner and considered it another important development towards equal treatment for Ireland’s LGBT community.

Mr Heneghan brought his case after he was permanently deferred in May 2015 from giving blood here after he disclosed having had a sexual encounter with a man some months earlier. He had begun donating blood in 2010 shortly after he turned 18. He said he had undergone tests after having had sex, all of which proved negative, but was nonetheless informed he was permanently deferred.

He argued he considered blood donation his civic responsibility and the permanent deferral was discriminatory, disproportionate and contrary to EU law.

He secured leave last July from High Court to bring his judicial review proceedings against the IBTS, the minister, and the State.

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