Petition challenging blood donation guidelines as discriminating based on sexual orientation, gender identity: SC issues notice to Centre, NBTC, NACO

THE Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the Central Government, National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) and the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) on a petition challenging guidelines barring permanently transgender persons, female sex workers and men having sex with men, from donating blood and being blood donors.

A bench led by CJI SA Bobde after hearing senior advocate Jayna Kothari for the petitioner called upon the authorities to file a reply to the petition.

Petitioner Thangjam Santa Singh, a member of the transgender community contended that 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 was completely arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory as well as unscientific.

All blood units that are collected from donors are tested for infectious diseases including Hepatitis B, C, and HIV/AIDS and hence prohibiting them from donating blood and categorizing them as high-risk only on the basis of their gender identity and sexual orientation is violative of their right to be treated equally as other blood donors, it asserted.

The plea alleged that such a categorisation was based on negative stereotypes which amounted to discrimination under Article 14 and 15

It contended that blood donor guidelines needed to be based on an individualised system for all donors based on actual and not perceived risk and not based on identities.

The plea was filed through Advocate-on-Record Anindita Pujari.

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