A few choice words…
In response to a ban lift on gay blood donation for those who have not had sex for ten years, Peter Tatchell wrote an article in the New Statesman saying: ‘protecting the blood supply is the number-one priority but ensuring blood safety does not require such lengthy time spans during which gay and bisexual men should not donate blood.’
Ten years sounds indeed both disproportionate and impractical.
A gay couple claims that they have been ejected from a pub because they had been kissing. Mr Bull and Mr Williams were approached by a man and a woman who said they were the landlord and landlady. The man asked the couple to stop kissing because he said it was bothering him while the woman said that the couple had to leave because they were being ‘obscene’. The man even went to grab the collar of Mr Williams. Mr Bull has complained to the police. This clearly begs the question: would a heterosexual couple have been treated the same? This situation is reminiscent of a certain B&B case…
Pink News reports pleasing progress on the government’s ‘Transgender Action Plan’ which is meant to be published this year. The first ever Transgender e-bulletin has been published and besides giving information on new consultations, it also includes a survey to ask transgender individuals which issues they are concerned about. The survey is a step forward in including the experiences of the trans community into any actions which the government will take. The survey can be found here.
Gay blood donation
The awaited government announcement on the ban on gay blood donation has seen a surprising new turn. It has been reported that the ban would only be lifted for those gay men who have not had sex for ten years before donating blood. One wonders whether this ban lifting is really just superficial as the exclusion period is an extremely long ten years. The problem with this exclusion period is that it is based on the wrong premise. A ban on blood donation should be focused on those who have had risky sexual behaviour and not on whether the individual is homosexual or not.
The BBC has reported that every death from domestic abuse in England & Wales is to be automatically reviewed by the agencies involved, following a speech by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC. While recognizing that much progress has been made in improving public authorities’ responses to domestic violence over the last few decades, he cites recent statistics that ‘are shocking and demonstrate that women are still more at risk of violent crime at home than anywhere else’, emphasizing there is still a long way to go. In spite of the spending cuts, he says that tackling domestic violence must be ‘a priority’ for the CPS.
A greater problem that remains, though, he points out, is the ‘issue of complacency’: ‘Most people are still unaware of the extent of domestic violence and its impact. And, although greatly reduced, the refrain “It’s just a domestic” is still heard far too frequently. The steps that we and our criminal justice partners are taking to tackle domestic violence risk limited success unless this complacency is tackled head on. A change in attitude is clearly needed.’
In this time of austerity, prioritizing and directing resources at problems such as domestic violence is not only good, important and necessary in itself, but it also sends the right message that such abuse is not simply ‘domestic’ and ‘trivial’ and demands serious attention.
More from afar…
Across the channel, a commission of MPs in France have recommended to make it illegal to pay for sex. Along with a fine, the commission even puts forward the possibility of imprisonment. This move would echo the similar steps taken in other European countries such as Sweden. The social affairs minister supports criminalisation saying, ‘there is no such thing as freely chosen and consenting prostitution’. Also, France’s ban on the wearing of niqabs and burqas in public has come into force, prompting protests and resulting in arrests.