Rules banning gay men from taking part in a coronavirus plasma trial have been slammed as ‘homophobic’ by an SE1 councillor.
The blood plasma trial, being carried out by Guy’s and St Thomas’, aims to transplant the plasma of those who’ve recovered from coronavirus to those currently fighting it, to help their antibodies fight off the illness.
However, as with blood donation, male patients who have slept with another man in the past three months are barred from joining the trial.
Cllr Victor Chamberlain, who represents Borough and Bankside, said the rules were outdated and discriminatory towards gay and bisexual men.
“As a gay man, I’m so disappointed that fellow gay and bisexual men who want to help fight COVID-19 are being prevented from doing so by homophobic and archaic rules,” he said in a letter to Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock.
“The decisison on whether gay and bisexual men should be allowed to participate in the trial should be based on individual risk assessments, not their sexual oritentation.
“Indeed a similar trial being conducted in the Netherlands does not mention gender or sexual orientation criteria at all.
“All those who are able to participate in the trial and can do so safely should be allowed to participate.”
— Cllr Victor ChamberlaIN (@VMMChamberlain) May 5, 2020
A NHS spokesperson has said that it recognises current rules “can feel disappointing” to men wanting to take part.”
“The guidelines are there to protect the health of the donor and the recipient. Under the current guidelines, men must wait three months after having oral or anal sex with another man,” said an NHS spokesperson.
“Separately to the convalescent plasma trial, we are working with LGBT+ groups to explore whether we might be able to introduce a more individualised risk assessment for blood donation.”
Cllr Chamberlain’s call has been backed by acting Liberal Democrat party leader, Ed Davey.
“It’s important that everyone – regardless of sexuality – can contribute to fighting COVID-19,” siad Mr Davey.
“It’s so wrong that this backward and homophobic approach has been taken. Time to end the ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood.”