Published Thursday, 22 September 2011
Health Minister Edwin Poots has confirmed that the ban, which is set to be partially lifted in the UK in November, will remain in place in the region.
In England, Scotland and Wales, gay men will be allowed to donate blood if they have not had sex with another man for a period of at least 12 months.
Mr Poots has described the situation as "complex."
"Blood-borne infections, well-recognised or as yet undiscovered, have the potential to destroy healthy lives. Public safety must be my primary concern, and I want the Northern Ireland public to have maximum confidence in our blood supply," the DUP minister added.
He stated that other countries also operated life bans.
But South Down UUP MLA John McCallister has accused Mr Poots of "irrational prejudice."
It is bewildering that the minister should take this stance - especially when the demand for blood has never been higher.
South Down MLA John McCallister
The MLA claimed that the DUP's views on homosexuality played a part in the minister's stance on blood donation.
He said that Mr Poot's decision "has not been made as a result of the medical evidence available alone."
"We cannot turn willing blood donors away because of outdated and irrational prejudice," Mr McCallister added.
The Sinn Féin chair of the Health Committee, Michelle Gildernew, also hit out at the decision, describing it as "wrong."
She said: "This decision is wrong and Edwin Poots needs to reverse it."
She said the minister was "bringing his own prejudice into play" and had taken his decision "without consultation with the Health Committee."
"This is just feeding into the discrimination that people from the gay, lesbian and bi-sexual community already suffer," she said.
"It goes without saying that we need to have robust screening of blood, whoever it comes from."
The Alliance party health spokesperson, Kieran McCarthy, described the ban as "disgraceful."
"What sort of message does this send out?" Mr McCarthy asked.
"We must have a society based on fairness and this refusal to lift this ban is deeply troubling. This refusal sets a very worrying precedent."
Restrictions on gay donors were put in place in the 1980s as a result of the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The reform comes into effect in Great Britain on 7 November following an extensive review of the issue by the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs.
The HIV Support Centre called on the DUP minister to change his decision.
"A person's sexuality is not a predetermining factor in the safety of blood transfusion. The real focus should be paid to the sexual behaviour of all blood donors," Director of The HIV Support Centre Danny Mc Quillan said.
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