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The Supreme Court on Friday, March 5, asked the Centre to respond to a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the guidelines for blood donation that bar people from the LGBTQ community and sex workers from donating blood.
According to The Times of India, the bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and comprising of Justice AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian also sought a response from the National Blood Transfusion Council and National AIDS Control Organisation.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by Thangjam Santa Singh, a transgender activist from Manipur. Questioning the validity of 2017 guidelines, she said that the rules were discriminatory on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
"The exclusion of transgender persons, men having sex with men and female sex workers from being blood donors and permanently prohibiting them from donating blood solely on the basis of their gender identity and sexual orientation is completely arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory and also unscientific," the petition read.
It further said that a 'permanent' exclusion of such persons from donating blood and categorising them as 'high-risk' only on the basis of their gender identity and sexual orientation promotes the feeling of exclusion and is in violation of the rights to be treated equally.
The petition pointed out that the donor's blood is tested for infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS before proceeding. Hence, banning certain community members prohibit social participation while trying to build an inclusive society.
"During the pandemic, many members of the community, who needed blood, were unable to get it from their trans-relatives and loved ones due to the guidelines. Persons who are barred are not even able to donate plasma for research for COVID-19… A large number of transgender persons are sex workers, and hence they are covered under both exclusions of being transgender as well as being sex workers and permanently prohibited from being donors," the petition contended.
The bench, however, said, "it does not understand such medical matters" and "will see the replied by the government".
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