Rejected Blood Donor Wants to Sue Over Faulty 'Gaydar'

Indiana man says he wasn't allowed to give blood because he appeared to be gay.

July 18, 2011, 12:35 PM

July 18, 2011— -- Aaron Pace claims he is the victim of faulty "gaydar" and intends to sue for discrimination after he was not allowed to give blood because he appeared to be homosexual.

Pace, who is 22 and insists he is straight, was rejected from giving blood by Bio-Blood Components Inc. in Gary, Ind., earlier this month.

Federal guidelines forbid blood donations by gays. The regulations dates back to 1983 and the outbreak of AIDS and the virus associated with AIDS, HIV.

"I was humiliated," Pace told "This was my first time experiencing this."

Pace said he filled out a questionnaire at Bio-Blood Components Inc. and sat through an interview with a staff member. When the interview was over, Pace was told he was not eligible to give blood and was turned away.

"She said 'I'm sorry, but it's the way that you act and appear to be. [It's] your sexuality.' And I said 'because I'm what?' and she said 'because you're gay,'" said Pace. He demanded to speak with the doctor on site who reiterated that he had been denied.

Pace said today that he plans to sue for sexual orientation discrimination.

Pace said he has an effeminate voice, and thinks that perhaps that was what caused the blood center to assume he was homosexual.

Rejected Blood Wants to Sue Over Faulty 'Gaydar'

"It was a big shock that they came up with something like that… I think it's stupid because how can you allow someone that's homeless to come in a give blood?" asked Pace.

Bio-Blood Components Inc. did not return's call requesting comment.

Blood donation sites across the country have been banned since 1983 from allowing gay men to donate blood due to a Food and Drug Administration regulation.

"It's blatantly silly," said Arthur Caplan of the medical ethics department at the University of Pennsylvania who also served as the chair of the Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability from 1998 to 2001. "I think the policy about homosexuality is not grounded in science, but remains grounded in bias."

The American Red Cross and other groups that supply donated blood have asked for a review of the regulation.

"Our top priority is the safety of our volunteer blood donors. All donors should be treated with fairness, equality and respect [and based on] accurate donor histories," said Stephanie Millian, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross.

"Using 'gaydar' to determine who's gay is also probably unreliable and the real truth is that there certainly are people who are donating who have done other risky behavior," said Caplan. "Going after homosexuals doesn't get at where the risk is. At the end of the day, you want to really rely on testing and people fessing up."

"The rest of it is bias... I don't think it's based on anything except bias," Caplan added.

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