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IU instructor arrested after protesting Red Cross' policy against gay blood donations

POSTED AT 08:47 PM ON Jun. 27, 2012  (UPDATED AT 04:09 PM ON Jun. 28, 2012)

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Uri Horesh, IU adjunct lecturer, was arrested Wednesday for disorderly conduct, battery and resisting arrest.

He was trying to donate blood.

Horesh arrived at the Red Cross Bloodmobile, with a copy of IU’s non-discrimination policy in his pocket, and was asked to complete a questionnaire.

One question asked if he had sex, even once, with another man since 1977.

Per Food and Drug Administration guidelines and recommendations for the blood industry, everyone who answers yes to this question is banned from donating.

“It’s important to know that it’s no longer just a gay disease,” Horesh said. “This policy is very much outdated, and asking this very outdated question is clearly some kind of caving in to some very old and homophobic prejudice.”

The FDA found that men who have sex with other men were 60 times more likely to be infected with the human immunodeficiency virus.

To ensure blood is collected from a population at low risk for disease, men who have sex with other men are banned from donating blood.

Horesh answered yes to the question and was not allowed to contribute to the blood drive. 

After he was denied from donation, Horesh showed Red Cross employees IU’s non-discrimination policy. 

The employees said there was nothing they could do and referred him to their supervisor.

Then, Horesh said, they called IU Police Department, accusing him of spitting at one of the employees.

The IUPD blotter lists Horesh as being arrested for assault.

Horesh said he assumed that, as University employees, IUPD would be sympathetic to his case.

Because Red Cross was invited to IU’s campus, Horesh said he thought the Bloodmobile would be subject to University policy on sexual orientation.
Instead, he was handcuffed and spent a night in jail.

This is not the first time Horesh has protested for LGBT rights.

In 2008, he went on a seven-day hunger strike at the University of Texas to protest the lack of same-sex partner benefits. 

“Nowhere in our policy does it say everybody has the right to give blood regardless of their sexual orientation,” University spokesman Mark Land said.

“It’s Mr. Horesh’s view, those are his words. We’re not letting anybody come on campus and violate our campus policies. This was expected protocol. He didn’t agree with it, but it has nothing to do with discriminating against anybody.”

Horesh’s arrest has led him to faculty review with the vice provost for faculty and academic affairs and the dean of faculty.

He is currently on leave with pay but was given the option to resign.

“I decided not to resign,” Horesh said. “I thought resigning would be some sort of admission of guilt.”

For the time being, Horesh has been removed from his post at IU. He expects a decision on the University’s part in a few days.

“Our primary concern is for the students,” said Tom Gieryn, vice provost for faculty and academic affairs. “We need to make sure that the events surrounding his arrest are not a distraction from teaching and learning in his classes.”

Horesh said he plans to plea not guilty to the charges.

His court date is July 30, but he is scheduled for a pre-trial conference with the judge.

 

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