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Why are gay and bisexual men still banned from giving blood?

Why are gay and bisexual men still banned from giving blood?

In nearly every country in the world, men who have sex with men are stopped from donating, but why?

Is ‘gay’ blood really more likely to be more ‘dangerous’ or is it based on decades-old stereotypes?

Is stopping gay and bisexual men from donating contributing to the worldwide shortage?

And if HIV continues to be known as the ‘gay disease’, then will it ever change?

Blood services claim they must ensure all blood received for donation is safe for transfusion purposes.

And as gay and bisexual men are supposedly statistically more likely to have HIV and hepatitis, then these blood bans are justified.

But many have argued that these rules were drawn years ago, during the AIDS crisis, so need to be updated to reflect modern thinking.

There have been recent developments, a battleground for those fighting on each side of the blood bans.

In 2013, the German Medical Association argued there is no reason why gay and bisexual men should not be able to donate.

Health minister Daniel Bahr welcomed the ideas, but called for ‘better medical criteria’.

In Canada, liberal politicians have been leading the way in calling for a ban to be based on evidence, not a discriminatory outlook on sexual orientation.

The Young Liberals say it is wrong for gay men to be excluded from donating in this way when no other group are and have labelled their five year ban as ‘dangerous, backward and stigmatizing practice.’

And in the UK, Conservative MP Michael Fabricant and Green’s Caroline Lucas has said the one year blood ban is ‘outdated, illogical and unequal’.

The ban shows the ’cause of equality still has barriers to break’ in the UK, and said equalizing the right to donate blood ‘is the next frontier for UK gay rights,’ Fabricant said.

‘The rules on blood donation need to be changed to reflect modern medical science.

‘Safety for the donor and recipient of blood transfusions must of course be respected, but fairness and equality need to be considered too.’

Below is the current situation for the blood bans across the world.

For most places, there is an indefinite ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood if they’ve had sex – ever. In others, they require they stay celibate for a year or more in order to make sure it is ‘safe’.

And if places like Russia and Poland, which are hardly the most gay-friendly places in the world, see no problem with taking gay and bisexual male blood, why is so little progress being made?

For the other countries, the situation is either unknown or banned. If you’d like to add to the list, please email [email protected] or comment below:

Algeria – Indefinite
Argentina –  1 year
Australia – 1 year
Austria –  Indefinite
Belgium – Indefinite
Brazil – 1 year
Canada – 5 years
Chile – No ban
China – Indefinite
Croatia – Indefinite
Czech Republic – 1 year
Denmark –  Indefinite
Estonia – Indefinite
Finland – 1 year
France – Indefinite
Germany – Indefinite
Greece –  Indefinite
Hong Kong – Indefinite
Hungary – 1 year
Iceland – Indefinite
Ireland – Indefinite
Israel – Indefinite
Italy –  No ban
Japan – 1 year
Malta – Indefinite
Mexico – No ban
Netherlands – Indefinite
New Zealand – 5 years
Northern Ireland – Indefinite
Norway – Indefinite
Poland – No ban
Portugal – No ban
Philippines – Indefinite
Russia – No ban
South Africa –  No ban
Slovenia – Indefinite
Spain – No ban
Sweden – 1 year
Switzerland – Indefinite
Thailand – Indefinite
Turkey –  Indefinite
United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland) –  1 year
United States – Indefinite (unless it was before 1977)
Uruguay – No ban
Venezuela –  Indefinite

Dark red: Permanent ban

Medium red: Temporary ban

Pale red: No ban