Marisol Touraine, the French Health Minister, has gone on record to state that France will be lifting its ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men in the spring of 2016, saying that it signals the end ‘of taboo and discrimination.’
The ban, which exists in many countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, New Zealand and Switzerland to name but a few, prohibits the donation of blood, and in some cases organ donation, from men who have had sexual relationships with other men, whether they class themselves as gay, bisexual or any other sexuality.
Many countries blood service defend the ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual donations by stating the statistically higher prevalence of HIV and hepatitis in gay relationships.
Despite these claims, many LGBT organisations view the restrictions as being based on homophobia and not based on any valid medical concerns, since blood donations are rigorously tested to rule out infections, wherever the blood may come from.
Despite these claims that gay and bisexual blood carry a higher risk of diseases France will be moving forward to lift the ban, stating that they will do so in stages in order to study if and how the risks of infections change.
The new system that they intend to introduce will not discriminate based on sexual orientation or sexual history, but will be judged on a case by case basis. Initially donations will be open to men who have not been sexually active with another man for 12 months prior to giving blood.
It is important to note that the ban does not only effect me in sexual relationships with other men, but women too. The ban also prevents women who are in relationships with me who have at one time been sexually active with men from donating blood.
Reports from people attempting to donate blood also indicate that the ban also extends to transgender women who are routinely turned away, even without their blood being tested for safety.