Ottawa takes action to block the human rights case of gay men, accusing him of supporting a ban on unpaid blood donors

A gay man in Ontario will appear in court later this month, arguing that Health Canada discriminates against him by overseeing the prohibition of blood donations from men who have recently had sex with other men.

The federal government has been trying to stop this challenge, believing that it has no right to change the donor standards of the Canadian Blood Service.

A federal court judge will hear the case on May 27.

The case dates back to 2016, when Christopher Karas filed a human rights complaint against Health Canada for the first time. He accused the department of discriminating against him on the basis of his sexual orientation, because the department adheres to the Canadian Blood Service’s policy, which prohibits gay men from donating blood in Canada unless they have been single for some time.

When Karas first applied to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the period was one year; it has since been reduced to three months.

For many years, the non-profit Canadian Blood Service Company has believed that the extension is necessary because HIV is more prevalent among men who have sex with men (sometimes called MSM populations). Before accepting donations, the non-profit organization screened out MSM through its donor health assessment questionnaire.

Karas said the ban made his sense of self-worth heavy and made him feel that “his value is very small.”

He said: “Adopting such an outdated and discriminatory wrong policy, prohibiting donors and preventing donors from donating and creating stigma is a way for our blood system to not function properly,” he said.

“What kind of society do we want to live in? Do we want to live in a society where LGBTQ people are put on hold, excluded, and have no opportunity to participate fully?”

Chris Karas filed a human rights complaint against Health Canada, accusing it of discriminating against him based on his sexual orientation. (Mitsui Evan/CBC)

Karas and his lawyer Gregory Ko argued that although Health Canada does not directly accept blood donations, it has received regulatory approval for screening by the Canadian Blood Service.

Ko said: “Health Canada is closely involved in the implementation, of course, to approve this blood ban on homosexuals.”

“They speak frankly with their fingers.”

Health Canada said: “There is no public interest in making a complaint.”

Health Canada disagrees, saying it has never issued a directive requiring the Canadian blood service to adopt the ban. The department said that for security reasons, it only reviews blood service policies and procedures, and there is no legal authorization to direct independent agencies to do anything.

Canada’s blood regulations do authorize the department to require Canadian blood services to address emerging health problems, such as SARS or West Nile virus. Health Canada stated that this does not apply to Karas’s complaint because his situation is not an “emerging health problem” or a “potential epidemic”.

Part of the content submitted by Health Canada to the Canadian Human Rights Organization stated: “It has no public interest to file a complaint against a party like Health Canada that has not been suspected of discrimination and has no right to revoke the policy that caused the suspected discrimination.” In 2019 Put into use.

That year, the commission sent Karas’s complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for further investigation, saying that preliminary evidence indicated that the relationship between Health Canada and CBS was worthy of further investigation.

The Human Rights Commission said: “In the initial stage, the defendant is not a party to the so-called discrimination. This is not obvious, and it is also obvious.”

Now, the Attorney General of Canada is trying to stop this inquiry on behalf of Health Canada and is seeking judicial review of the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s decision at the federal court level.

In a court document filed earlier this year, the government reiterated that Health Canada did not discriminate against Karas and also accused the Canadian Human Rights Commission of conducting an unfair investigation.

The document said: “The committee failed to interview Health Canada witnesses. They could have determined that Health Canada has a limited role as a blood safety regulator.”

“The committee’s decision reflects this unilateral and incomplete investigation. It did not consider any opinions of Health Canada.”

The committee said it would not comment on the matter due to ongoing court proceedings.

The lawyer said, “concerns about the big issue of optics”

Ko said that the federal government’s attempt to conduct judicial review is tantamount to an attempt to end the investigation by the Human Rights Court.

He said: “The approach taken by the federal government is both surprising and aggressive.”

The government is also looking for costs, which Callas said will cause a huge financial burden.

He said: “This is the story of David Goris.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waved a flag while participating in Toronto’s annual Pride Parade on Sunday, July 3, 2016. The Liberal government continues to pledge to end the so-called “discriminatory” blood donation ban. (Nathan Dennett/Canada Press)

Ko said he believes Ottawa is using this challenge to try to get rid of allegations of discrimination.

He said: “There is a big problem with optics.” “Of course [it’s] A government that does not want to disclose its involvement in such discriminatory policies has troubled the actions of the federal government to some extent. “

The Liberal government continues to pledge to end the so-called “non-discriminatory” ban on unpaid blood donations, and challenges will follow. Commitments were made in the 2015 and 2019 federal elections.

When asked how the government coordinated the court challenge with the pledge, a spokesman for Health Minister Patty Hajdu said he could not comment because the case is still in court.

Karas said: “I think this should be a cause for the attention of all of us, because they have been screaming on this document but are reluctant to take action.”

“There is no political will. I think we need to continue to promote this goal.”

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