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Seeking to donate blood for a $40 fee, Chicago resident Aaron Pace was shocked earlier this month when Gary, Indiana-based Bio-Blood Components rejected his donation on the grounds that he "appears to be a homosexual."
While Pace admits that his voice is noticeably effeminate, he is not gay.
Humiliated and embarrassed, he now plans to sue the company for sexual orientation discrimination.
As a response to the onset of the HIV/AIDS crisis, since 1983, the FDA has prohibited blood donations from men who have had at least one sexual encounter with another man since 1977.
Despite scientific advancements, mandatory donation testing, and a better understanding of what types of behavior are likely to expose a person to HIV, the Sun-Times reports that Department of Health and Human Services has chosen not to recommend a change to this policy without a detailed study.
For this reason, it is legal for donation centers to ask about a person's sexual history and to deny a donation if they fit the above criteria.
However, Aaron Pace alleges that, despite stating that he had never had sex with a man, a staff member still denied his donation because she felt that he was acting gay, reports ABC News.
FDA regulations generally do not apply to donations by people who subjectively appear to be gay.
Because the blood bank's behavior is likely not protected by federal law, and most state laws that prohibit sexual orientation discrimination include actions based on one's perceived sexuality, it's very possible that Aaron Pace will successfully win a lawsuit.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.