Canada is dropping its blood donation deferral period.
Starting 3 June, gay and bisexual men only need to abstain from having sex with another man for three months in order to donate blood. Previously, the deferral period was one year.
Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor made the announcement on Parliament Hill.
‘Today, we’re taking a major step towards a fair, evidence-based blood-donation system by reducing the deferral period to three months and moving towards behavioural-based screening,’ he said.
This is the latest change to the country’s Canadian Blood Services policy.
In 1992, they implemented a complete ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. More than two decades later, in 2013, authorities lifted the lifetime ban. Gay and bisexual men had to abstain from sex with other men for five years.
Three years later, the soon-to-be defunct one-year policy was implemented in 2016.
Blood donation discrimination is a worldwide issue for the LGBTI community. Several countries allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but with firm deferral periods in place.
Some of these countries, however, only lifted the lifetime bans recently.
Other places like Israel and Thailand lifted their bans, while the UK recently reduced bans.
Still, there is plenty of criticism continuing to go around. In the US, Red Cross is facing a shortage of blood, but the country has yet to reduce its year-long ban.
During this year’s South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, the HBO series Game of Thrones held a blood drive. People quickly slammed it, however, when they pointed out how gay and bisexual men are still banned from donating.