Gay men can now donate blood in Ireland, with limitations.
Before this week, the blanket Irish blood ban prevented gay men from donating blood.
But the Irish Blood Transfusion Service now allows men who have sex with men to donate blood after a year of abstaining from sex.
Irish Health Minister, Simon Harris said: ‘I accepted the recommendations of the IBTS to change their blood donation deferral policies.’
‘Only 3% of the eligible population of Ireland are active blood donors – yet 1 in 4 people will require a blood transfusion.
‘The IBTS provides a safe, reliable and robust blood service… and has the necessary programmes and procedures.
‘The IBTS will continue to keep all deferral policies under active review in the light of scientific evidence, emerging infections and international experience,’ Harris said.
Individual risk vs. blanket ban
The amendment is now in line with countries like the US, UK, Australia and Canada.
But countries like Spain and Italy currently evaluate blood donation on a case-by-case basis.
Spain asks donors if they have engaged in risky sexual behavior, while Italy recommends donors refrain if they’re not sure.
LGBTI activist groups argue this blanket ban is not necessary, since all blood is tested anyway.
Campaigning group Freedom to Donate’s aim is simple: ‘Those who wish to donate blood and can do so safely, should be able to donate blood.’
Ethan Spibey, founder of Freedom To Donate said: ‘I’m a gay man, and it shouldn’t mean I can’t donate blood.’
‘[T]esting methods and our knowledge of blood borne viruses [are] more advanced than ever before,’ Spibey told The Telegraph.