Lack of blood leads to calls to change gay male donation rules

Another urgent plea for blood donation across Australia has prompted members of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially gay men, to push again for changes to the rules around donating blood.

Australian Red Cross Lifeblood urgently needs 1,200 donors in WA alone to give blood over the next two weeks.

But gay men must abstain from sex for three months to donate.


Queer activist Jordan Bruno told PerthNow that Lifeblood’s rules were “outdated” based on the AIDS crisis of the late 1980s.

“Since then, there’s been a major cultural shift in how our community views both that crisis and people with AIDS, but there’s still a huge amount of stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS in the straight community because they don’t understand it,” he said. Sir said Bruno.

“I have never had sex with anyone for three months, so unfortunately, it has never been on the table for me to give blood.

“But I was in a monogamous relationship with a man for four years where we both knew each other’s sexual health.

“So I can give blood and do it safely, but I can’t.”

Camera IconJordan Bruno wants blood donation rules to change. Credit: Andrew Ritchie/The West Australian

HIV AIDS or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a chronic condition that damages the immune system.

It quickly spread in Australia between 1983 and 1985 and was cited for emerging from the gay communities in both Sydney and Melbourne.

It wasn’t until 2020, at Lifeblood’s request, that the period of abstinence for gay men from donating blood was reduced from 12 months to three.

A Lifeblood spokesperson told PerthNow that while the company understood the rules excluded some groups, the government and the Therapeutic Goods Administration would first need to approve any changes.

“We hear the pain, frustration, and anger, and we understand the desire to help – we want that too,” the spokesperson said.

“In Australia, about 67 percent of newly diagnosed HIV cases occur in men who have sex with men, but there is no reliable way to find out who within the group could account for these newly acquired cases, and so we are, so the whole group waiting to donate.

“We recognize that for anyone who cannot donate blood, it can be frustrating to hear our donor appeals and know you are unable to help, but we share the same goal with our donors, including our sexuality and gender diversity donors – to ensure a stable and safe blood supply for Australian patients.”

Camera icon Another urgent plea for blood donation across Australia has prompted members of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially gay men, to push again for changes to the rules around donating blood. Credit: AAP

Since donated blood cannot be stored and has a short shelf life, Lifeblood is urgently calling on those eligible to donate blood and plasma.

Mr. Bruno cited new studies, particularly in the UK, where he said 49 percent of new HIV diagnoses in England were in heterosexual people.

“People think HIV is a strange disease, but it isn’t,” said Mr Bruno.

“We need. To find a system that allows more people who are queer to donate blood, there needs to be a broader understanding of the real threat of HIV – the crisis is over.

“If you need blood, change the policy. There are thousands of queer people who are healthy and safe to donate.

“The problem isn’t with people who don’t give blood; the problem is with the system.”

To donate blood, check your eligibility and make an appointment at

John D.Mayne
I love to write. When I wasn’t writing for my school newspaper or college blog, I was writing personal essays and journal entries. Then I discovered I loved to write. In college, I wrote for my school paper and my campus radio show. I started doing freelance writing for the Huffington Post in 2009. Then, I joined the team at Newsmyth as a writer/editor. Now, I spend most of my time writing for Newsmyth and as a guest blogger on a handful of other blogs. When I’m not writing, I like to read, travel, cook, and spend time with friends.