Holland’s health minister implemented new regulations in the country this week, which means that gay and bisexual men can donate blood for the first time. There is a catch, though – they must have not had sex with any male partners for a year to be considered for blood donation.
Minister for Health Edith Schippers announced the policy change, saying: “I am a staunch supporter of emancipation and equality of people, and at the same time responsible for the safe blood supply in the Netherlands.”
While it’s disappointing to see such a limitation in place, it’s still better than it was previously as gay and bisexual men could not donate blood at all.
The dutch LGBT rights group, COC, also criticised the change for not going far enough: “The new policy will remain unnecessarily discriminatory. This proposal provides too little, too late.The policy is only of practical importance for bisexual men in long-term monogamous relationships with a woman.”
Edith defended the move by pointing to other countries with similar bans, which includes Sweden, Finland and the United Kingdom.
But, other countries such as Argentina, Spain, Portugal and South Africa now screen blood donors if they have been engaged in unsafe practices that could expose them to a blood-borne disease rather than on the basis of their partners’ gender. This has been done without significant risk to the blood supply, so there’s no real reason similar policies couldn’t be implemented elsewhere.