Northern Ireland

Gay blood: Foster 'very happy' to back lifting of gay blood ban

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Media captionThe decision to lift a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood has been backed by Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster.

Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster has backed the lifting of a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood.

The Democratic Unionist Party leader said she was presented with new medical evidence on the issue by Sinn Féin Health Minister Michelle O'Neill.

Mrs Foster said the decision was backed by science.

She said: "It has never been about equality or morality, it was about the safety of people receiving the blood."

Speaking to BBC News NI, Mrs Foster said: "Michelle came with the new evidence to us and I was quite happy to endorse the decision she suggested.

"In fact, if Simon Hamilton had had the chance to deal with it before the election he would have."

Image caption The move brings Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.

Ms Foster said the decision had been agreed by the whole executive.

"We indicated that we want to get on with the job of governing. I hope this week has shown that we are confident in our decisions."

Ms O'Neill, who was appointed health minister in May, announced on Thursday that she would lift the lifetime ban on gay men donating blood.

It will be replaced by a one-year deferral period - where gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood one year after their last sexual contact with another man.

The move brings Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.

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