Supreme Court seeks reply from the Centre on the blood donation guidelines

The Supreme Court issues a notice to the Central Government, seeking a reply on the petition challenging blood donation guidelines.

Guideline on Blood Donor Selection and Blood Donor Referral of 2017, issued by the National Blood Transfusion Council and the National Aids Control Organisation, classifies transgender persons, men having sex with men and female sex workers as a “high-risk category” vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

In 2017, the court, did not stay the operation guidelines, as it could not delve into issues which were primarily scientific in nature.

In 2021, a Bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice S.A Bobde heard the petition and issued a notice to the government.

A petition challenging these guidelines was filed by a Transgender Activist, represented by Advocates Jayna Kothari and Thulasi K. Raj.

The petition stated that donor blood is tested for infectious diseases, including Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS.

Permanently excluding these communities from donating blood and categorising them as high-risk only on the basis of their gender-identity and sexual orientation is violative of their right to be treated equally as other blood donors. It was further stated that this classification is unreasonable, unscientific, arbitrary and discriminatory.

The petition also highlighted that these guidelines perpetuated a stigma that these communities were “less worthy and subordinate in social participation and healthcare”.

It was also stated that with people still dying of the virus, there is more need for plasma and blood donation.
The petition also stated that during the pandemic, many members of the transgender community, who needed blood, were unable to get it from their trans-relatives and loved ones due to these guidelines.

These guidelines also bars these communities for donating plasma for research.

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