Saturday, November 04, 2006

Stereotype Or Die.

There is much to admire about Peter Tatchell, sure he's a loon but only because he follows his principles. When compared to someone like Ken Livingstone who's leftism is based on political expediency and a hierarchy of victimhood the difference is plain to see. For example on gay rights both men have long been prominent in pushing for more equality in that area for two decades, but Livingstone's commitment only extended as far as lambasting white middle class homophobes so he finds it perfectly reasonable to invite someone like Sheikh Qaradawi, who believes gays should be executed, to London. Muslims trump gays. Tatchell's support for the free speech of people who oppose him also sets him apart from much of the far left. So I don't dislike the man but this Comment is Free article by shows that a sincere extremist is just as wrongheaded the opportunistic variety:
Bloody prejudice

The National Blood Service is stereotyping gay men as modern-day "Typhoid Marys" by rejecting them as donors.
He seems to be arguing that the function of the National Blood Service is to make people feel good about themselves rather than efficiently providing healthy blood to those in need. Saying that something is a stereotype does not render it untrue, stereotypes arise because they reflect reality to some extent.
The NBS gay ban is based on the unscientific, homophobic presumption that all gay and bisexual men are "high risk" for HIV, regardless of their individual sexual behaviour.
Of course not all gay men are high risk, but the question is whether the cost of sorting the low risk from the high risk donors is worth doing. That really depends upon what extra measures would be needed to accomplish this.
The NBS policy is based on crass generalisations. It lumps together all gay and bi men, without differentiation, as if we are all the same.
Of course it relies on generalisations, there are a limited amount of resources and they can't really be spent on finding out about the complete life and times of every potential donor. Generalisations reduce costs of sorting out suitable donors.
If the transfusion service made similar sweeping judgements about the Jewish community, there would be an outcry. The NBS is promoting the homophobic myth that all queers are the bearers of contagion and death.
Unlikely, whilst the NBS does not filter out jewish donors they do make similarly sweeping judgements about sub saharan African donors and there is little outcry over this. This is because most people recognise that the function of the organisation is to provide as much clean blood to hospitals as they can with the money available but at no point in Tatchell's article does he provide any evidence for the impact of the prohibition on gay donors on this function.

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