In 2011 England, Wales and Scotland changed the rules on blood donation to allow men to give blood if they have no had sex with another man for a year.

Northern Ireland is still lagging behind in reversing their permanent ban which has been in place since the 1980s AIDS threat.

A gay christian man and the then DUP Health Minister entered into a lengthy legal battle which has seen costs spiralling to almost £40,000 already.

Answering a question from Green Party MLA Steven Agnew, the Department of Health said the cost of the legal fight was £39,100.

However the former health minister Edwin Poots’ bid to overturn last weeks rulings that his ban on gay men giving blood in Northern Ireland was irrational and “infected” by apparent religious bias has been hit by another delay and will see costs rise even further. The former health minister has maintained the prohibition in Northern Ireland on the basis of ensuring public safety.

Mr Justice Treacy said in his ruling: “If health was, as the Minister claimed, the sole basis underpinning the impugned decision, no question of any assault on Christian principles or morals could conceivably arise.”

The Court of Appeal was due to hear challenges to judicial verdicts that Mr Poots also breached the ministerial code and appeared to have been influenced by his Christian beliefs in maintaining the lifetime prohibition. The case, which had been listed for a four-day hearing this week, may not now take place until after Easter.

The appeal has been put on hold while lawyers wait the outcome of similar proceedings in Luxembourg.

Mr Poots has since been replaced as Health Minister by DUP colleague Jim Wells – who believes that gay pride is “repugnant”.