Germany’s health ministers have demanded to lift the blanket ban on gay men donating blood be lifted.
During the 89th Conference of Health Ministers, all 16 members unanimously agreed to request the exclusion criteria on blood donations to be changed.
The proposal is championed by Monika Bachmann, health minister for the Saarland, Germany’s smallest (non-city) state, and member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
‘Together we’re campaigning for the blanket exclusion of gay and bisexual men to finally be lifted,’ she said in a statement.
‘I’m very happy that all states decided to support our demand.’
While Bachmann explained the protection of those who receive blood products must remain paramount, she also said there should be a compromise instead of a discriminatory blanket ban on groups of people.
She also argued new guidelines would encourage more honesty when filling in the necessary forms prior to a donation.
Germany’s blood transfusion law currently excludes certain groups based on national guidelines published by the German Medical Association.
Last adapted in 2010, the guidelines don’t just exclude men who have sex with men but also prisoners, male and female prostitutes, and straight people whose sexual behavior puts them at a high risk of being infected with HIV and/or Hepatitis B or C.
Hermann Gröhe, Federal Health Minister, recently said he was in favor of loosening the ban on gay men donating blood, possibly in favor of a deferral period like in the UK.
The ministers’ verdict was welcomed by politicians and LGBTI organizations, who called the decision ‘right and important’.
‘The blanket ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood is discriminating,’ said Axel Blumenthal, spokesperson for the Lesbend- und Schwulenverband (LSVD), Germany’s biggest LGBTI organization.
‘The accusation of homosexual sexual contacts holding a higher risk of infection [with HIV] in any given case is as discriminating as it is absurd.
‘To determine the risk it’s vital to consider not just the number of individual sexual partners, but also how sexual contacts are arranged in terms of avoiding the transfer risks.
‘The risk is determined by how safe or unsafe a sexual practice it, not by whether it’s homo- or heterosexual.’