Canadian law places heavy restrictions on sperm donation for certain gay and bisexual men, describing such donors as “unsuitable.” One man is looking to change that through a discrimination lawsuit, CTV News reports.
The “Safety of Sperm and Ova Regulation” requires gay and bisexual men to be abstinent for a period of three months before they can donate sperm, regardless of whether they are in a monogamous relationship. The law came into effect in 2020, and it was technically an improvement over the previous lifetime ban. But because all donations undergo repeated testing and a six-month quarantine, advocates continue to challenge these restrictions as unnecessary and discriminatory.
“[It’s] like you’re undesirable because of your gayness as a donor … It feels like such an arbitrary rule,” said Aziz M., the man who in January filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court of Ontario. He and his lawyers are seeking to demonstrate that the restriction violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Specifically, the filing charges that the law “perpetuates stereotypical attitudes and prejudices against gay and bisexual men, including false assumptions about their health, their sexual practices, and their worthiness to participate in child conception.”
For Aziz, this is much more than an abstract social justice issue—he has a personal stake. By donating sperm in the past, he was able to help a lesbian couple have a daughter. “We go out [to] museums and parks, and we play. There’s a lot of joy, a lot of meaning in it,” he said. “We’re kind of navigating this … family-like relationship, and what do we call each other?”
The experience was so meaningful that he has encouraged other friends to go through it, only to find that they were arbitrarily barred from donating. “It made them feel bad, and it made me feel embarrassed as well,” he said.
In a statement to CTV News, Canada’s federal health agency said that it is “committed to non-discriminatory policies,” which is why they created a separate “direct donation process” for gay and bisexual men. This allows prospective recipients to sign a waiver in order to get a donation from someone they already know.
Advocates have pointed out that the science justifying this separate process is dubious. MP Randall Garrison, an avid critic for LGBTQ+ rights in Canada, explained, “There’s never been any science behind the ban on gay men donating sperm, none whatsoever … People tell me they’re working on it, but they’ve been telling me they’ve been working on this for over five years.”
Even if the case does not succeed, Aziz hopes that it will open the conversation, at the very least. “I would be really happy and honored if this makes things move along and … makes people recognize the equality between … everybody, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” he said.