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Trans and gay people, women sex workers can’t donate blood: What the Centre said in SC

GS Paper 2

Source: The Hindu, Indian Express

 

Direction: This is in continuation of yesterday’s article regarding legalising same-sex marriage.

Context: The Centre recently told the Supreme Court, that the exclusion of transgenders, gay people, and female sex workers as blood donors by including them in the “at risk” category for HIV, Hepatitis B, or C infections is based on due consideration of scientific evidence.

Background:

  • The Central government’s response came after Thangjam Singh, a member of the transgender community, moved the Supreme Court seeking to strike down the prohibition on gay and transgender people from donating blood under clauses 12 and 51 of the ‘Guidelines for Blood Donor Selection & Blood Donor Referral, 2017’ issued by the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) and the National Aids Control Organisation on October 11, 2017.

Petitioners’ argument:

  • Thangjam said that such exclusion based on one’s gender identity and sexual orientation is “completely arbitrary, unreasonable, and discriminatory and also unscientific.”
  • The plea adds that since the blood is tested for infectious diseases like AIDS/ HIV, Hepatitis C, and B; permanently excluding persons based on their sexual preference violates their right to equality.

What is the government’s argument for the exclusion?

  • In its affidavit, the government said that the exclusion of transgender and gays from blood donation is premised on scientific evidence. The affidavit cites research from a slew of local and international “reputed scientific journals” such as the International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health and the International Journal of STD & AIDS.
  • The Centre also referred to the Annual Report of the Department of Health and Family Welfare (2020-2021) pointing to a three to six times higher HIV prevalence among adults who are Hijras, Transgenders, MSM (Men who have sex with men), and female sex workers.

Related News:

Children of lesbian, gay parents do not necessarily become lesbians, gays: SC informs government

Context: Growing up with lesbian or gay parents will not necessarily make a child lesbian or gay, Supreme Court confronted the government’s concern about the “psychological” impact same-sex marriages may have on children.

  • The case involved an “interplay” between constitutional rights of life, liberty, dignity, and equal treatment of members of the LGBTQ+ community on one side and specific statutory enactments that consider only a married union between a biological man and woman on the other side.

 

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