France has finally lifted the lifetime ban gay men donating blood.
You may have caught the original announcement of these plans from the Hollande government back in November, when health minister Marisol Touraine promised to “a taboo and discrimination” after it became known there was no real reason for the ban to be in place.
He said that “no blood donors can be refused based on their sexual orientation”.
Touraine did go onto say that the lifing of the ban will be made in stages, just so the government can study any changes to the risk factor that occur.
Under the new system, French gay and bisexual men can donate after a 12-month referral period for blood donations and four months for plasma donations. This means that gay and bisexual men will have to abstain from sex so they can donate.
While this is a positive step, it is still rather draconian given that all blood is regularly screened, meaning there is no real risk factor from gay or bisexual men. There is a similar system in England, Scotland and Wales where gay men have to abstain for a year to donate.
Sophie Aujean of ILGA-Europe told France 24: “This is a good sign, which shows that men who have sex with other men are becoming less stigmatised. A year is a very long time, and will probably mean that a lot of men who have sex with other men will opt out of donating blood because of it. Four months would be more reasonable.”
These limitations also effect women who have slept with bisexual men, as the ban prevented them from donating blood as well. Here’s hoping that after no increase in risk factor is shown, these draconian limitations can be lifted in both France and the UK.