SDLP Health Spokesperson Cara Hunter has encouraged gay and bisexual men who are eligible to consider donating blood.
Ms Hunter was speaking after a rule change came into effect on Monday permitting men who have been in a same-sex relationship with one partner for more than three months to give blood.
Previously, men who had been in a same-sex relationship had to wait for a year after their last sexual activity before donating blood
Ms Hunter said the rule change was overdue, an important step towards equality for the LGBT+ community and would also benefit the health service.
The East Derry MLA said:
“It is extremely welcome that this rule change has now taken effect in the North, after being in place in other parts of the UK from June. While the move was initially delayed due to staffing and training issues I am glad these have now been resolved.
“Giving blood is hugely important – it saves lives. I would encourage everyone to consider becoming a blood donor, it is quick and easy and really can make a big difference to someone who needs it. Our health service regularly experiences shortages of blood, particularly rare blood types and there is a moral responsibility on all of us who can to donate.
“This rule change is also an important step for equality for the LGBT+ community. Anything that results in a fairer and more equal society, where everyone is treated the same is positive for us all.”