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Taiwan lifts ban on gay men donating blood, but there’s still a catch

Taiwan lifts ban on gay men donating blood, but there’s still a catch

Nurse taking blood donation from man in blue t-shirt

Taiwan will relax its ban on gay men donating blood and they will be able to start donating from May.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) announced the decision to change the rules.

Currently men who have sex with men (MSM), people living with HIV and those with malignant tumors or leukemia are banned from donating blood in their lifetimes.

A Blood Consultative Committee recommended ending the lifetime ban after public pressure from LGBTI groups. The recommendation is under judicial review and should be applied by May this year.

But to be eligible to donate blood, men who have sex with men will need to have abstained from anal sex for at least five years.

A MOHW spokesperson told media that the government planned to reduce that waiting period down to 12 months at some point in the future.

Five year ban is still not good enough

LGBTI groups have described the five year rule as ‘a violation of humanity’.

Those involved in the online campaign to lift the lifetime ban in the first place said gay men should not have to abstain from sex to be allowed to donate blood.

They argued that increased HIV testing and the efficient blood donation screening process were good enough to reduce risks.

Taiwan’s biggest LGBTI organization, the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association criticized the five-year ban.

Its policy promotion head, Tu Tsu-cheng, said Taiwan should follow in the footsteps of other countries, like neighboring Hong Kong and have only a 12 month waiting perios.

‘Five years is really too long and it goes against human nature,’ he told Channel News Asia.

‘You can call a principle fair only when it can be equally applied to homosexuals, heterosexuals and bisexuals.’

Other countries which have recently relaxed their lifetime bans on MSM donating blood include; Switzerland, Wales, Israel, Scotland, Hong Kong and France.