The horrific shooting that has claimed at least 50 lives at a nightclub in Orlando has brought up a hot-button issue for the gay community – the ability to give blood.
Since 1983, the Food and Drug Administration has barred gay and bisexual men from giving blood.
The ban was loosened last December when the agency declared that gay men who have been celibate for a year or more can donate.
The new rules still bar men who are in long-term monogamous relationships.
Countries around the world have thrown out rules barring blood donations for gay men, because there’s no science to support a ban on gay blood donation. Additionally, in nightmarish times like this, a community needs any able-bodied person who can and wants to give blood to do so.
OneBlood, a blood-donation center in Orlando said that it is in “urgent need” of blood donors following the shooting, but FDA regulations remain in place:
All FDA guidelines remain in effect for blood donation. There are false reports circulating that FDA rules were being lifted. Not true.
— OneBlood (@my1blood) June 12, 2016
Many have taken to social media to criticize the FDA regulations:
It’s legal to buy an AR-15 assault rifle. It’s illegal for a gay man to donate blood to victims of the massacre. The world makes no sense.
— John Barcus ???? (@johnrtworld) June 12, 2016
To the gay men who can’t donate blood for our fallen brothers, just being there for each other is helping. Stick together. #PrayForOrlando
— Mo: Space Chicken (@Moreh_SC) June 12, 2016
Despite the FDA regulations, hundreds of Orlando residents have turned out to local blood banks to donate.
— Darren Soto (@DarrenSoto) June 12, 2016
— Christal Hayes (@Journo_Christal) June 12, 2016
So many people have come out to donate at OneBlood that the donation center has asked people to leave and return in the coming days to donate, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“I’ve been here 13 years and never seen a response like this,” Pat Michaels, a spokesman for OneBlood, told the Sentinel. “The sentiment is understood and appreciated, but it’s a little too much, too soon.”