INDIA: The Centre has pleaded before the Supreme Court that transgender persons, gay men, and sex workers should refrain from donating blood, highlighting the scientific evidence that shows a greater prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis B or C among these people.
According to the Centre, the exclusion of these marginalised people from donating blood has been recommended by subject experts, who have also given the example of how in European countries, gay men, and gender non-binary people similarly refrain from such an endeavour.
The Union Health Ministry, in an affidavit that was filed in answer to a PIL by Thangjam Santa Singh and produced in the top court, stated, “The category of persons excluded under the guidelines are those considered at risk for Hepatitis B or C infections, There is substantial evidence to show that transgender persons, men having sex with men, and female sex workers are at risk for HIV, Hepatitis B, or C infections.”
“The right of the recipient to receive a safe blood transfusion far outweighs the right of an individual to donate blood, constitutional courts should defer to the judgement of domain experts in this regard,” he added.
The petitioner mentioned that such exclusion based on gender identity and sexual orientation was “completely arbitrary, unreasonable, and discriminatory, as well as unscientific.”
The PIL said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of transgender people were not able to get blood from their trans relatives and friends due to this strict law. Transgenders, gays, and female sex workers have to constantly bear the burden of societal taboos that deter the right immediate medical help that they wish to seek. As a result of this, the transmission from these groups becomes rampant. One such example is the case of monkeypox which happened and mostly affected gay people.
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