Edwin Poots criticised over African blood donation remark

Edwin Poots Edwin Poots said he wanted to extend the ban to "people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour"

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Northern Ireland's health minister Edwin Poots is facing fresh criticism over his comments about blood donation.

On Sunday, Mr Poots defended his ban on blood donations from gay people, saying it should also apply to other groups.

He said he wanted to extend the ban to people who have sex "with somebody in Africa or sex with prostitutes".

The African Caribbean Community Support Organisation in Northern Ireland described his remarks as "disgusting".

Donald Makony from ACSONI said people in his community were "outraged" that someone at such a senior level in government was expressing such "backdated" views.

'High-risk'

Mr Poots made his comments when he was asked why he has insisted in maintaining a lifetime ban on gay men who want to donate blood in Northern Ireland when the rules were relaxed in the rest of the UK.

He told BBC Northern Ireland's Sunday Politics programme: "I think that people who engage in high-risk sexual behaviour in general should be excluded from giving blood.

"And so someone who has sex with somebody in Africa or sex with prostitutes, I am very reluctant about those people being able to give blood," Mr Poots said.

Mr Makony said he was not really surprised by the remarks but added: "It was just more disgust that the man can just say these things and not really expect any kind of reaction from the people he's talking about in such a derogatory way."

Speaking to the BBC World Service Focus on Africa programme, he said that the comments had created a lot of controversy on social media websites, especially Facebook.

'Apology'

Mr Makony explained that he often worked with senior politicians in Northern Ireland on behalf of the African and Caribbean communities and said he would be challenging the minister about his remarks.

"This reflects the thinking at senior level in government here so getting an apology from this man is not really the issue.

"We want to get to the centre of why the government thinks in this manner and is treating people in this manner," he added.

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