Spain: Homosexuals and Bisexuals Forbidden to Donate Blood Because of Their Sexual Orientation

Spanish Autonomous Communities of Murcia and Cantabria are the only two that still exclude homosexual and bisexual people from the possibility to donate blood, exclusively because of their sexual preferences.

Blood banks present documents that all prospective donors must read specifying the circumstances in which blood cannot be donated. Those who have had hepatitis or who are HIV-positive cannot be donors. Any person who, regardless of her/his sexual orientation, practices unsafe sex is also excluded. But the Autonomous Communities of Murcia and Cantabria make a distinction between straight people--who are only forbidden to donate blood if they engage in unsafe practices--and homosexuals and bisexuals, who are categorically forbidden to become donors, regardless of their practices.

FORWARDED ACTION

IGLHRC circulates this call to action issued by the Spanish LGBT organization Fundacion Triangulo and joins it in asking for emails, letters or faxes, demanding that discrimination against homosexual and bisexual people stop immediately.

Please write TODAY to:

D. Ramón Luis Valcarcel
Exmo. Sr. Presidente de la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia (President of the Murcia Autonomous Community)
Email: ramonl.valcarcel@carm.es
Phone: +34 968 36 20 00
Fax: +34 968 29 30 75
Mailing address:
Palacio de San Esteban - C/ Acislo Díaz s/n
300071 - Murcia
España (Spain)
D. José Joaquín Martínez Sieso
Excmo. Sr. Presidente de Cantabria (President of Cantabria)
Email: grupo-popular@parlamento-cantabria.es
Phone: +34 942 20 72 08
Fax: +34 942 20 72 14
Mailing address:
Gobierno de Cantabria - Casimiro Sainz 4.
39003 - Santander
España (Spain)

And please send copies to

Fundación Triángulo.
Email: correo@fundaciontriangulo.es
Mailing address:
Eloy Gonzalo 25. 1º Ext. Dcha.
28010 - Madrid.
España (Spain)
Phone/Fax: +34 91 593 05 40

MODEL LETTER

You will find below the model letter written by Fundación Triángulo followed by an English translation. We suggest that you send the letter in Spanish.

Excmo. Señor:

He tenido conocimiento que el Centro de Hemodonación de la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia junto con el Banco de Sangre de Cantabria son los dos únicos lugares de España donde se sigue manteniendo entre los criterios de exclusión para donar sangre el simple hecho de ser homosexual o bisexual.

Como usted no desconoce el hecho de ser homosexual o bisexual no constituye ningún riesgo específico de transmisión de vih u otras ETS. Como usted, sin duda, conoce es conveniente que no done sangre cualquier persona haya tenido prácticas sexuales de riesgo, INDEPENDIENTEMENTE DE SU ORIENTACIÓN SEXUAL. Poner en una categoría aparte a homosexuales y bisexuales, por el simplemente de serlo, es una discriminación inaceptable.

Por ello le rogamos que tome las medidas oportunas para que sea rectificado dicho criterio y evite que su Comunidad Autónoma sea uno de los últimos reductos de la discriminación en este aspecto.

Atentamente,

(Name, organization, address)


English Translation:

Dear Sir:

It has come to my knowledge that the "Centro de Hemodonación de la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia" together with the "Banco de Sangre de Cantabria" are the only two places in Spain where exclusionary criteria for blood donors based on the mere fact of being homosexual or bisexual are still in place.

As you are aware, the fact of somebody being homosexual or bisexual does not constitute any specific risk for HIV or other STDs transmission. As you surely know, any person who has indulged in riskier sexual practices is advised not to donate blood, REGARDLESS OF HIS/HER SEXUAL ORIENTATION. To place homosexuals and bisexuals in a separate category, for the mere fact of their being so, constitutes an unacceptable discrimination.

Thus, we urge you to take all required steps to rectify those criteria and avoid your Autonomous Community to stand as one of the last strongholds of discrimination in these matters.

Sincerely,

BACKGROUND

What follows is the translation of the documents where blood donation from homosexuals and bisexuals is forbidden.

a. Cantabria Blood Bank

  1. PERSONS WHO, IN ANY OCCASSION
    • Have being tested for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Syphilis or the AIDS virus and had resulted positive once or several times.
    • Have had sexual relationships in exchange for money or drugs
    • Have used or are using intravenous drugs
    • Have received blood transfusions because of a blood illness or alterations in the coagulation process

    MUST NOT DONATE BLOOD

  2. IF YOU
    • Are living as family with somebody who has Hepatitis B or C
    • Have had sexual relationships with several partners without using condoms; with somebody included in the categories specified above; with a homosexual or bisexual male; with people suffering from sexually transmitted diseases
    • Have received a blood transfusion

    MUST WAIT AT LEAST ONE YEAR SINCE THE LAST TIME YOU WERE EXPOSED AND ONLY THEN DONATE

b. Murcia Regional Center for Blood Donation

(Self-exclusion chart)

If you indulge or have indulged in any of the following risky practices, do not donate blood, as it can be damaging to the health of the person who will receive it.

  • Homosexual or bisexual relationships, risky heterosexual relationships (multiple partners, relationships with prostitutes).
  • Drug use, intravenous drug use
  • Relationships with people included in the two categories mentioned above during the last 12 months.
  • Chronic receptor of blood products.

INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK

The right to equality before the law and to be free from discrimination are protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in its Articles 2 and 7, by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in its Articles 2 and 26, and by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in its Article 14.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Article 13 of the Treaty of Amsterdam (2 October 1997), that modifies the constitution of the European Union, authorizes legislative prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation in its member States (is not itself a prohibition). The Council of Europe has pronounced itself against discrimination based on sexual orientation on several occasions. The first time it did so was in 1981, through Recommendation 924 that assessed the situation of lesbians and gay men in Europe as a group subjected to discrimination. In the Recommendation on the Situations of Gays and Lesbians in Council of Europe Member States (September 26, 2000, the Assembly requested the Committee of Ministers to add sexual orientation to the grounds for discrimination prohibited by the European Convention on Human Rights. It also invited member states to include sexual orientation among the prohibited grounds for discrimination in their national legislation, to revoke all legislative provisions rendering homosexual acts between consenting adults liable to criminal prosecution, and to apply the same minimum age of consent for homosexual as for heterosexual acts.

However, up to now, the criteria of the Committee has been the one outlined by them in Protocol 12 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: not to add "non-discrimination grounds (for example, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation or age), not because of a lack of awareness that such grounds have become particularly important in today's societies as compared with the time of drafting of Article 14 of the Convention, but because such an inclusion was considered unnecessary from a legal point of view since the list of non-discrimination grounds is not exhaustive, and because inclusion of any particular additional ground might give rise to unwarranted a contrario interpretations as regards discrimination based on grounds not so included. It is recalled that the European Court of Human Rights has already applied Article 14 in relation to discrimination grounds not explicitly mentioned in that provision (see, for example, as concerns the ground of sexual orientation, the judgment of 21 December 1999 in the case of Salgueiro da Silva Mouta v. Portugal)"

Discrimination in service provision by public or private parties on the basis of sexual orientation has been forbidden in Spain by its Penal Code (Art. 511-12) since 1995.

Spain ratified the ICCPR in 1977. The UDHR is considered customary law for all Member States of the United Nations, including Spain. So is the European Convention for members of the Council of Europe, as Spain is.