Politicians, Gay Rights Groups Calls on FDA to Lift Blood Donor Ban

PHOTO: protestor, gay, donor, blood, donationGillian Mohney/ABC News
A protestor shows off his rejection stamp after trying to donate blood and admitting he is gay.

Gay rights groups and members of Congress called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reverse the guideline that bars gay and bisexual men from donating blood unless they abstain from sex for one year.

Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, whose district includes Orlando, said not allowing many gay and bisexual men to donate blood is discriminatory during a call with reporters today, adding that the ban should be lifted to "treat all people equally." He pointed out that in times of crisis, such as the June 12 shooting at the Pulse nightclub that killed 49 people, people want to give back to the community.

"We had two blocks that had to be cordoned off of people anxious to give blood that day, in the rain," Grayson said, referring to the day after the Orlando nightclub shooting. "Recognition of the impulse we all feel in times of tragedy, to help. No one should be turned away under those circumstances."

Grayson also said new testing could be done to more accurately test for HIV.

Rep. Jared Polis, who represents Colorado's 2nd district, called on the FDA to update its blood donor regulations to focus on behavior rather than sexual orientation.

"Gender of one’s partner has nothing to do with whether one is engaged in risky behavior or not," he said today. “Nothing [is] inherently different about the blood of gay or bisexual Americans."

The congressmen were joined by the LGBTQ rights groups National Gay Blood Drive, Equality Federation and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. In December, the FDA changed its guidelines to allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they abstain from having sex with a man for one year. Prior to December, gay and bisexual men were barred from donating blood for life.