A gay lawmaker and coronavirus survivor tried to donate plasma to help others – but he was turned away because of his sexuality.
Shevrin Jones, a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, went to a blood drive on August 7 with his mother Bloneva Jones and his father Eric Jones.
The three decided to donate blood because they had recently recovered from COVID-19 and wanted to help others by donating their antibody-rich blood.
Writing on Twitter, Jones said: “I was blessed to get through COVID, and it’s only right that we bless someone else and give them a fighting chance to live also.
“It’s the right thing to do.”
Florida lawmaker Shevrin Jones was told he can’t donate blood because of his sexual orientation.
But Jones’ dreams were quickly shattered when he was turned away by OneBlood because of a government policy that requires queer men to practice celibacy for three months before donating blood.
After he was turned away, Shevrin wrote on Twitter that he was “disappointed” he could not donate blood because of his sexual orientation.
“I was ‘deferred’ for another time. The good news is, my mom, dad, brother and over 20 other people saved a life today!”
He added: “Too bad my blood plasma isn’t good enough.”
To make matters worse, the incident was later turned into a campaign tactic in an anonymous homophobic text campaign.
I was ‘deferred’ for another time. The good news is, my mom, dad, brother and over 20 other people saved a life today!
Jones, who is currently running to become Florida’s first Black gay senator, was shocked to discover that texts were sent out to voters in Senate District 35 last week saying he had been discriminated against for “homosexual contact”.
The text linked to a website set up where an article about his blood donation ban was copied word-for-word.
“It’s a shame that my opponents have stooped to this new low to try and win,” Jones told the Miami Herald.
“Rather than running off the issues that matter to the voters of our community, they have chosen to lob desperate attacks based on antiquated, discriminatory FDA policy… Hate never wins.”
Experts have urged the United States to overturn its ‘scientifically outdated’ blood donation ban.
Gay and bisexual men have been banned from donating blood in the United States since the 1980s, when the AIDS epidemic was at its height.
The original ban prevented any man who had ever had sex with another man from donating blood for life – but it has been relaxed considerably since then.
Earlier this year, the food and drug administration (FDA) reduced the deferral period – meaning the amount of time a man must remain celibate before donating blood – from 12 months to three months.
But experts warn that it still does not go far enough.
In April, more than 500 doctors and experts in the United States wrote to the FDA urging them to overturn the “scientifically outdated ban”.
“While the FDA’s recent decision to shorten the prohibition window to three months is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough in reversing the unscientific ban,” the letter said.