Nova Scotia

Student group criticizes Justin Trudeau for marching in Halifax Pride parade

A local student association is taking issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marching in the 30th annual Halifax Pride parade, which drew a huge crowd of revellers to the city's downtown on Saturday afternoon.

Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia wants 'homophobic' rules on blood donation nixed

Adam Reid, executive director of Halifax Pride, marches with an "end the blood ban" placard during the annual Pride parade in downtown Halifax on Saturday. (CBC)

A local student association is taking issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marching in Halifax's 30th annual Pride parade, which drew a huge crowd of revellers to the city's downtown on Saturday afternoon.

At issue is a restriction on blood donation to Canadian Blood Services for men who have sex with men, which the Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia calls "homophobic and transphobic."

The student group issued a statement earlier this week singling out Trudeau and calling for the adoption of "screening policies that focus on behaviours that are scientifically proven to be higher-risk for transmitting blood-borne pathogens, not outdated stereotypes of queer and trans people."

"Prime Minister Trudeau is using Pride as an opportunity to gain political clout for himself and his party without taking action on issues that affect the community," Aidan McNally, the group's chairperson, said in the statement.

"Instead of paying lip-service to the queer and trans community he should be taking steps to immediately end the blood ban."

Contentious donation rules

The Ottawa-based agency, which oversees the national supply of blood and blood products, has faced criticism over the restrictions around donations from gay men.

They must be abstinent for a year before they can donate, a waiting period that was reduced from five years last August.

Before 2013, there was a blanket ban on all donations from men engaged in same-sex intercourse.

One of the federal Liberals' campaign promises was to end what their platform described as the "discriminatory ban that prevents men who have had sex with men from donating blood."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves a flag as he takes part in the annual Pride Parade in Toronto on Sunday, July 3, 2016. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

The website of the Canadian Blood Services says the organization is "exploring the possibility of moving toward behaviour-based screening … that prioritizes patient safety while minimizing the societal impact on certain groups of people."

Trudeau said last year that he was frustrated at the one-year ban, but there is only so much the Liberal government can do to have it removed because the agency is supposed to operate free from political influence.

The Canadian Blood Services describes itself as "an independent, not-for-profit organization that operates at arm's length from government."

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