Carleton University’s student government will debate tonight whether to change its current policy against working with Canadian Blood Services. The Carleton University Student Association says the CBS blood donor screening process, which forbids donations from any man who has had sex with another man since 1977, is homophobic. CUSA policy does not allow CBS to use its space, depriving the agency of prime campus locations and student foot traffic.
Gina Parker, a student council member, will move to overturn CUSA’s policy at its meeting tonight in the Senate Room, on Robertson Hall’s sixth floor. Parker became involved with CBS during the last year, after her younger brother’s leukemia diagnosis, and she also has helped OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network.
“I understand their point completely,” Parker said of CUSA’s policy motives. “I’m all for soliciting blood donations of all types from all types of people, and I do find a flaw in the donor-assessment questionnaire,” Parker said. “It’s just not fair for the people who need it. I wanted to be a voice for those people, the people who didn’t choose to get into a car accident or didn’t choose to get cancer.”
CBS is working on a proposal asking Health Canada to narrow the policy to prohibit donations by any man who has had sex with another man within the last five to 10 years, said Ron Vezina, a CBS spokesperson. Australia and Britain recently moved to a one-year deferment; the United States maintains a lifetime donation ban.
Donors being screened should be asked about specific sexual acts and safety practices, since high-risk behavior is not a matter of sexual orientation, said Arun Smith, a student and LGBT activist. If CBS wants more blood donors, it should stop discriminating against gay men, Smith said.
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