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Winnipeg advocate wants feds to go further on LGBT apology, taking action on 'absurd' gay blood ban

Jim Kane, 62, is eager to provide feedback on a proposed federal apology to LGBTTQ people.

Jim Kane at his home in Winnipeg Manitoba, May 8, 2017.

Lyle Stafford/For Metro

Jim Kane at his home in Winnipeg Manitoba, May 8, 2017.

A Winnipeg advocate wants the federal government to go further than just a formal apology to LGBTTQ people discriminated against on the job.

Jim Kane, 62, urged the government to take action by dissolving an "absurd" ban preventing gay men from donating blood until they’ve been celibate for one year.

"I think it should be part of (the apology) because of the fact that the blood ban was based on who you had loved or had sex with … and not based on any science," he said.

Announced Wednesday, the public apology is scheduled for fall and will apply to members of the federal public service, military and RCMP.

Community consultations will be done this summer to determine the contents of the apology, with a website for feedback going up shortly, said Randy Boissonnault, the Prime Minister’s advisor on LGBTQ2 issues and Liberal MP for Edmonton Centre.

In an interview, Boissonnault said lifting the blood ban won’t be done in conjunction with the public apology as the files are being worked on separately.

In January, Health Canada provided $3 million to Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Quebec "to take a really good look at and develop the research that can determine and—from my opinion—verify, the very low risk factors to no risk factors that monogamous gay couples pose to the blood system," he said by phone.

Randy Boissonnault, MP for Edmonton Centre and the Prime Minister's LGBTQ2 advisor, is drafting an apology to LGBTTQ Canadians discriminated against by the federal government.

Ryan Tumility/Metro Ottawa

Randy Boissonnault, MP for Edmonton Centre and the Prime Minister's LGBTQ2 advisor, is drafting an apology to LGBTTQ Canadians discriminated against by the federal government.

"It is up to Héma-Quebec and Canadian Blood Services to demonstrate the research and then come back to the Government of Canada and the Ministry of Health to then make an evidence-based case for that reduced blood ban," Boissonnault added.

Kane pointed to the Pulse Nightclub shootings in Orlando last year as a prime example of why a ban ought to be lifted.

"People died because there was a shortage of blood and that’s a black mark not in Canada, but as an example of how absurd this law can be," he said.

Kane appreciates the government pursuing its long-promised LGBTTQ apology and hopes his older gay friends will live to hear it.

"That’s one of the reasons I’ve been pushing for this sooner rather than later," he said. "There’s a lot of hurt and there’s a lot of healing that needs to be done."

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