Representative image: Essendon Football Club members donating blood. Photo: Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.
Germany will become the latest country to lift its blanket ban on gay men donating blood. Activists in Australia are urging the government to follow the example set by other countries that have changed their discriminatory rules against gay men donating blood.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the law would be changed to ensure that gay blood donors in the future would be assessed on their individual risk behaviour. Currently, gay men and trans women in Germany have to abstain from sex for four months before becoming eligible to donate blood.
“Whether one can be a blood donor is a question of risk behaviour rather than sexual orientation. There must be no hidden discrimination on this issue either,” Lauterbach was quoted by DW as saying.
Ditching An Archaic Ban
Last month, the US FDA said that it was considering easing restrictions to allow gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships to donate blood without abstaining from sex. In recent years, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Israel, Greece, Brazil, Hungary, Argentina, Denmark and Canada have withdrawn their blanket ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. Most of the countries adopted discriminatory rules in the 1980s, in the initial years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
In Australia, gay and bisexual men, trans women and non-binary people have to abstain from having sex for three months before they are allowed to donate blood. Let Us Give campaign spokesperson, Thomas Buxereau said that Australia should adopt the individual risk assessment criteria.
“Germany is joining an ever-growing list of countries that have ditched the archaic ban on donation from gay men, bisexual men and trans women who have sex with men. Instead, it is adopting individual risk assessment which focusses on risky sexual activity rather than sexual orientation,” Buxereau said.
‘Review Global Research On Gay Blood’
“We call on the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Service to move more quickly on this reform so Australia is no longer an international outlier.”
The organisation in December announced that it would conduct a research program on the issue, which could take two years to complete.
According to Buxereau the example of other countries should be considered. “There is significant clinical evidence from around the world showing individual risk assessment is the best way forward. It shouldn’t take two years for the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood Service to review global and local research. We call on Lifeblood to expedite its research and reform the existing policy as quickly as possible,” added Buxereau.
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