A BBC investigation has found that the Northern Ireland Department of Health does not have any evidence to support a permanent ban on gay men donating blood.

When asked for medical evidence for the ban via the Freedom of Information Act, a response from the Department of Health read: “This department does not hold any papers in relation to medical evidence to support maintaining the permanent blood donor deferral for men who have had sex with men donating blood”.

“The department takes advice on blood safety matters from the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO).

“SaBTO was content that based on this and other evidence, a change to 12 month deferral would maintain the safety of blood transfusions, and recommended that communications about policy change should emphasise the importance of compliance.

“SaBTO found that the evidence no longer supported a lifetime ban.”

England, Scotland and Wales allow men to donate blood if they have not had sex with a man for a year, but Northern Ireland has an outright ban.

A judge has ruled that the ban should be lifted, but the current Northern Irish health minister, Jim Wells, is appealing the judgment.

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