Blood drive
Puget Sound Blood Center employees handle newly donated blood September 11, 2001 as the citizens of Seattle respond to the call for blood in the wake of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon. (Photo by Tim Matsui/Getty Images)

LGBTQ advocates have launched a petition calling for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift the ban on gay blood donors amid the COVID-19 crisis.

GLAAD launched a petition last week slamming the current “antiquated” policy which mandates that gay and bisexual men abstain from sex for a year prior to donating blood. Advocates say the restrictions hinder sexually active gay males from giving lifesaving blood during the coronavirus pandemic, NBC News reports.

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“The FDA needs to put science above stigma,” Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of GLAAD, said in a statement. “Gay and bisexual men… want to give blood and should be able to contribute to help their fellow Americans.”

The petition follows Surgeon General Jerome Adams’ recent announcement that America’s blood supply had taken a huge hit when 2,700 blood drives were canceled due to concerns over the spread of the deadly coronavirus, which reportedly resulted in 86,000 fewer donations within the last month.

Adams has called on “millennials and Gen Z” to donate, noting that “blood centers are open now and in need of your donation.”

“One donation can save up to three lives,” he said.

GLAAD Communications Director Mathew Lasky cited a 2014 report from UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, that estimated an “extra 600,000 pints of blood” would be available per year if the restrictions on gay and bisexual men were lifted.

“We really see it as a holdover of a discriminatory policy from a time long past,” Lasky told NBC News. “We think that it’s important to push the FDA to rethink the policy around this because it’s not based in current science.”

The petition reads, in part:

This antiquated ban is not only discriminatory but has been debunked by leading medical organizations for years. The American Public Health Association has argued that the current ban “is not based in science but appears to be modeled after other countries’ choices and fears.” The American Red Cross has also spoken out against the ban, noting that “blood donation eligibility should not be determined by methods that are based upon sexual orientation.”

It goes on to urge the FDA to “put science above stigma.”

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“Gay men, bisexual men, and men who have sex with men want to give blood and should be able to contribute to help their fellow Americans,” the petition reads.

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