Answering yes to this question on the IBTS website brings the user to a page describing why they do not accept blood from MSMs.[/caption]With many other options being offered such as more rigorous interviews or testing of donors, asking people to get checked for STIs or having specific questions based on sexual tendencies, it seems apparent that the IBTS do have other options to this blood ban. However, if they did ask people about specific sexual tendencies and banned anyone who frequently had oral or anal sex, acts which they have described as “high-risk”, they would have to exclude a large portion of the population as these acts are much more common than the MSM Blood Ban would indicate.Australia, New Zealand and the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) have all altered their policies surrounding MSM blood donations. A report published on the altering of the MSM blood ban to a 12 month deferral in Australia “found no evidence that the implementation of the 12-month deferral for male-to-male sex resulted in an increased recipient risk for HIV in Australia”. The report was conducted by the Australian Red Cross along with several universities and other institutions of research. It also found that more problems were created by donors lying than having had sex with men. Brady argues that “The evidence is stating very clearly across countries that have changed [their MSM blood donation regulations] that this does not impact on any risk in any way to the blood supply”. Some may argue, however, that it could increase the risk in some cases by 1 or 2%.In 2013, Aodhán O’Ríordáin now a Minister of State for New Communities, Culture and Equality posed a question to Dr James Reilly, then Minister for Health about the ban. In his reply the minister stated that “The permanent deferral of men who have sex with men [MSM] … by the IBTS, is an important safety measure for blood transfusion” and that the “the decision is not based on sexuality or orientation”. His words echo the IBTS but still come out hollow and lacking in sources to back them up. The IBTS is run by the state and the state is defending this ban. The IBTS will not alter this ban without state approval. It is for this reason that Dr Reilly’s words are highly significant.This issue, however, is not the only controversial banning of a segment of the population from giving blood in Ireland. You must not give blood if you weigh under 50kg. This does not take into account your height or BMI. The most surprising of all may be that you can’t give blood if you “spent 1 year or more in the UK between the years 1980 – 1996, including living, working, or on holidays”. This is due to cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) that occurred in the UK in the 1980s and because the plans to prevent further infection were only fully implemented by 1996. This disease originated in cattle and then people contracted the disease by eating infected beef. The IBTS say on their website that “the risk of contracting vCJD through travelling and living in the UK in this period is considered to be low. It should be noted that in the UK where tens of millions of people were potentially exposed to vCJD through eating infected food, there have only been 176 cases of the disease to date.” Though this risk only applies to those who eat beef the ban still applies to vegetarians. It is this same disease that prevents people who have received a blood transfusion in Ireland since 1980 from giving blood. The IBTS say on their website that “On the available evidence, the risk to patients from blood and blood products in the Republic of Ireland is extremely small and may be zero.” However they have also said that this is a very serious disease and that there is no known test for it.It is clear that there are multiple issues with the donor application process and that they won’t go away in the near future. The state is currently focusing on the marriage equality referendum and one might hope that this would be the next issue in line. Nevertheless, it’s certainly possible that this will be pushed to the back burner as the LGBTQ+ community try to fight a war against conservative Ireland one step at a time.The Minister for Health James Reilly has said that “the number of donations likely to be obtained from MSM is unlikely to resolve any supply issues.” It is impossible to guess the number of donations that would be obtained by MSM men if the ban was lifted. It’s likely that were the ban lifted there could potentially be a sudden surge in blood donations. This would be both from homosexual men who couldn’t donate before and also from those who were previously against the IBTS because of the ban and would be more comfortable donating with the ban lifted. The IBTS 2013 annual report revealed that during that year men gave 47,272 blood donations while women only gave 35,425. With men already giving more blood than women the lifting of the ban should increase these numbers greatly. If there is a crisis in blood supply in Ireland’s future could the IBTS be forced to accept the blood of those whose behaviours are at “high risk”?There are two sides to the blood ban debate, both staunch in their position. It would take a lot of campaigning and State backing for this ban to ever be overturned. With so many difficulties existing in blood donation the IBTS may have to review their whole donation process if they want to even consider this issue. The Equal Marriage referendum could help or hinder this debate on both sides. LGBTQ+ rights could begin to increase steadily or all the campaigns could provoke conservatives into strong protests against LGBTQ+ issues such as this.