SAQD going over the top

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

November 14, 2007 Ed Cartoon

The debate surrounding Canadian Blood Services’ men who have had sex with men (MSM) policy has taken on a life of its own at Western.

Yesterday, members of Standing Against Queer Discrimination (SAQD) staged a spirited protest in the University Community Centre.

The SAQD was formed in response to the CBS policy that edicts the service will not accept blood donations from any male who has had sex with another male since 1977.

SAQD members have mentioned the organization is fighting a policy they believe is steeped in homophobia and expressed they do not feel welcome on the Western campus due to the policy. As such, the SAQD would like CBS removed from Western’s campus until the MSM policy is revoked.

The SAQD were left unsatisfied after a recent presentation by CBS representatives at Western. Hence, the SAQD will steadily lobby to Western administration to facilitate change in the MSM policy.

While most agree the policy is discriminatory, the justification for its existence generates heated debate. This makes the topic difficult to discuss and synthesize from a distance.

Rather than continuing to debate the validity of the policy itself " which has been done exhaustively " it is important to examine the merits and flaws in the SAQD’s response to the CBS policy and subsequent meetings between the two groups.

Obviously, garnering attention is crucial to SAQD’s success. Melodramatic protests and demands will at the very least familiarize the average Western student with SAQD’s agenda.

The media also validates SAQD’s strategy because media outlets are more interested in covering dramatic protests than calm petitioners.

The LGBTQ community have been frustrated with the CBS policy for 10 years now, and no constructive solutions have been found to appease them. Thus, perhaps it is reasonable for SAQD to be confrontational with CBS and university administration.

However, there are flaws in the group’s response. Proposing a CBS ban from campus when part of SAQD’s initial concerns about the MSM policy were about blood supply in Canada is hypocritical. While there are SAQD members that truly want to donate blood, it is evident the group’s primary focus is what it perceives as homophobia in the policy.

Also, by demanding CBS be completely removed from Western, it alienates those on campus who would otherwise have sympathized with SAQD’s concerns. People know how short Canada’s blood supply is; removing a donor clinic is not a solution.

Ultimately, SAQD would be better served by continuing to do thorough research and gathering current, accurate statistics. Then it could go back to the table with CBS and reason constructively in order to effect change.

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