A gay man in Canada is challenging the constitutionality of a federal government policy that prohibits gay and bisexual men from donating to sperm banks unless they have been abstinent for three months or are donating to someone they know. The Toronto man bringing the lawsuit, identified only as Aziz M., claims the policy violates the right to equality in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and perpetuates stereotypical attitudes and prejudices against gay and bisexual men. The case is being supported by Canada’s Court Challenges Program, an independent organization that financially backs individuals bringing cases related to constitutional rights of national significance.
According to the “Safety of Sperm and Ova Regulation,” sperm banks operating in Canada must deem gay and bisexual men as “unsuitable” donors, even though all donations are subject to screening, testing and a six-month quarantine before they can be used. Aziz, who previously donated to a sperm bank in Toronto, feels this policy makes him a “second-class citizen.” The lawsuit argues that the federal health minister has the power to change the policy and that the current policy puts an additional barrier for LGBTQ+ families in having children.
In Canada, there are two streams for sperm donation: one involves sperm donations made to a sperm bank for general use, while the other is known as the “direct donation process” and involves sperm donations between a donor and recipient who are known to one another. This case focuses on the first stream, and Aziz hopes it will result in a recognition of equality for all, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.