New Zealand, Britain ease rules on blood donations by gay men

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12/14/2020

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – New Zealand and Britain became on Monday the latest countries to ease rules on blood donations by gay and bisexual men, as supply concerns caused by COVID-19 increase scrutiny of AIDS pandemic-era restrictions that LGBT+ rights advocates say are homophobic. New Zealand’s government cut the celibacy period for gay and bisexual men to give blood from a year to three months, regardless of whether or not they had used condoms, the New Zealand Blood Service said on its website on Monday. In Britain, which had a three-month deferral period, a behaviour-based policy will be used from mid-2021, meaning anyone – gay or straight – who has had anal sex with multiple partners or a new partner will not be able to donate blood. The change means men in long-term gay monogamous relationships will be eligible to donate blood without any waiting period from “summer 2021”, a statement on a government website said on Monday. A spokeswoman for England’s state blood donation service said she could not give an exact date for the implementation. “It’s groundbreaking. It’s a fundamental shift away from stereotyping sexuality to assessing individual risks,” said Ethan Spibey, the founder of campaign group Freedom to Donate, which worked with the government on the new policy.

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