This Sunday, Lifetime’s legal comedy series Drop Dead Diva will once again use its platform to target an injustice faced by the LGBT community; this time the FDA’s 2005 ban on donations by gay men.
In the season four episode entitled “Family Matters,” a man who is fighting for visitation rights of his biological child sees his chances of caring for his son drastically reduced based on the fact that he is a gay man who donated sperm. The episode highlights the 2005 FDA ban on donations of sperm by gay and bisexual men, citing intercourse between two men as a “risk for sexually transmitted diseases.” Other FDA cited risk factors leading to a ban on donations include IV drug use and prostitution. The FDA also prohibits gay and bisexual men - who have had sex with another man since 1977 - from donating blood. The ban on blood donations has been in place since 1983 and was upheld in November 2010. Check out a clip from the episode below.
The Lifetime drama has a history of LGBT inclusive storylines and often shines a light on various forms of discrimination faced by the community. Last year Drop Dead Diva aired an episode based on the real-life story of Constance McMillen, a high school student from Mississippi who wasn’t permitted to attend prom with her girlfriend. The episode received a GLAAD Media Award in the Outstanding Individual Episode category earlier this year. The program also featured a storyline in which a transgender woman, played by Candis Cayne, is in a legal battle with her in-laws over her deceased partner’s property.
“The creators of Drop Dead Diva have once again used their platform to shed light on injustices that require greater attention,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Storytellers and television have a powerful ability to help enact social change by first reaching people through entertainment. This episode demonstrates how unfair this outdated and biased ban really is."
“On this Sunday’s episode, Tyler Jacob Moore (Shameless) plays Dan Abraham, a gay man who is arrested for donating sperm. Most people don't realize it, but, in America, it's illegal for a man to donate sperm if he's had sex with another man during the past five years. The reason for the rule is ostensibly to keep the sperm banks free of HIV. That being said, modern testing is extremely effective in identifying HIV shortly after infection. In truth, the only basis for the FDA restriction is homophobia,” said Drop Dead Diva creator and executive producer Josh Berman.
“As we continue to advocate for reformed blood donation policies for gay men, the prohibition of gay men donating sperm reminds us of the uphill challenges we face with the Food and Drug Administration,” said Nathan Schaefer, Director of Public Policy at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). “While gay men are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic, the majority of gay men across the country are HIV-negative. Furthermore, adults who exercise their reproductive rights have the ability to consent to whom will donate either sperm or eggs. Biological parenting is another part of life, along with adoption and marriage, that should be available to all Americans – regardless of their sexual orientation.”
The "Family Matters" episode of Drop Dead Diva will air on Sunday, August 19 at 9/8c on Lifetime.