Too gay to donate blood?17 April 2020
METRO takes initiative against discrimination
Together with the PROUT AT WORK Foundation and with great cross-sectoral participation from the private sector, METRO is launching a position paper on amending the Hemotherapy Guideline. Its aim is to make the admission of homosexual and bisexual men as well as trans persons to blood donation less discriminatory. Contact with politicians and key stakeholders was established on Friday, 17 April.
Blood donations are scarce, not only during the corona period, and are in particular high demand in times of crisis when the number of donors declines. But those who want to donate blood in Germany nowadays do not always find it easy. This is especially true for homosexual and bisexual men and trans people, as these individuals have to comply with even stricter regulations than others already do. It is evident that everyone who depends on a blood donation should be sure that the blood used is free of disease and thus does not cause any harm, but really only does what it is so urgently needed for: saving lives.
But at only 2 to 3 percent of the population in Germany, unfortunately far too few people donate blood. Accordingly, a large number of companies and associations support the health care system and its need for blood donations by making their premises available to partners such as the German Red Cross and regularly calling on employees and members to donate blood. Every blood donor in Germany has to wait four months after having a new sexual partner before donating blood again. On the other hand, following the Hemotherapy Guideline, certain groups of persons, such as homosexual and bisexual men as well as trans people, are deferred from donating blood in Germany for a 12-month period across the board. One problem that results from this: incomprehension, because many people who are homosexual, bisexual or trans cannot understand why a stricter regulation applies to them. Of course, the Hemotherapy Guideline aims to ensure safe donations. At the same time, however, there is the perception that medical possibilities are not sufficiently reflected: Infections such as HIV or hepatitis, for example, can be detected in the blood after four months. Why should this be different for homosexual, bisexual or trans people?
For this reason, METRO has decided to temporarily suspend blood donation campaigns on the Düsseldorf campus and is linking this measure with an appeal to the political authorities. The wholesaler and food specialist, together with many other stakeholders from the private sector and initiatives such as the PROUT AT Work Foundation, is campaigning for the Hemotherapy Guideline to be revised and for the admission of homosexual and bisexual men as well as trans people to donate blood to be made less discriminatory. The goal: a non-discriminatory working environment in which everyone feels safe, accepted and valued as they are – hence the fundamental demand for an amendment of the Hemotherapy Guideline for the benefit of everyone. In this regard, it is worth referring to examples from other countries such as Canada or the United Kingdom, where a donor deferral period of as little as three months for everyone – without exceptions – has so far not produced any negative effects on the quality of blood donations.
One thing is certain for Andrea Euenheim, member of the Management Board and Director of Labor Relations of METRO AG, who herself was once a grateful recipient of a blood donation: “We at METRO embrace diversity and colourful plurality because it is part of our very own DNA. As an employer, our aim is to offer all our employees the opportunity to develop as personalities and thus to be able to realise their full potential. In our opinion, the current legal framework on donating blood contradicts these values.”
Sven Liebert: “We have succeeded in finding supporters for our project across all industries. From Deutsche Bahn and Continental to thyssenkrupp – organisations with hundreds of thousands of employees are supporting it, which is a huge success.”
Nikita Baranov adds: “I am convinced that other large companies will join this initiative. Together we can take a big step towards equality!”
METRO would like to find more partners in order to reach even more people and continue to connect with all important political stakeholders to address this issue. All this in order to achieve the quickest possible amendment of the Hemotherapy Guideline. The position paper is only available in German language and can be downloaded here. Corporate Public Policy is available at any time if you wish to support the project.