Today in the High Court in Belfast, Mr Justice Traecy ruled that Health Minister Edwin Poots continuation of the lifetime ban on men who have sex with men was “irrational”. The judge also found that Edwin Poots breached the ministerial code by failing to take the issue before the Stormont Executive.
The verdict followed a challenge over the minister’s decision to maintain the blood ban after it was lifted in England, Scotland and Wales. The ban on Northern Ireland gay men donating blood was put in place across the UK in the 1980s but was lifted in other parts of the UK in 2011 and replaced by new rules that allow blood from men whose last sexual contact with another man was more than a year ago.
Lawyers for the unidentified gay man challenging the prohibition also revealed their client is a Christian who is equally opposed to homosexual activity.
Mr Poots, a born-again Christian who has repeatedly voiced his disapproval of same-sex relationships, said the descision was taken purely on health grounds to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. On Monday, Mr Poots told the Northern Ireland Assembly Assembly: “It is a matter for the department of health in England to decide what it wants to do next.”
Northern Ireland’s first minister and DUP party leader – Peter Robinson has since stated that he will not sanction Mr Poots for breach of the ministerial code as he expects there to be an appeal of the decision.