France rules that gay & bisexual men can donate blood

The French National Assembly has recently passed an amendment that allows gay and bisexual men donate blood under the same conditions as heterosexual men. While the measure won't go into full effect until January 2022, there's a lot to be said about what this measure means for global bioethics.

"The criteria for selecting donors (…) may not be based on any difference in treatment, in particular with regard to the sex of the partner or partners with whom the donors have had a sexual relationship," says the amendment to Article 7 bis of the bioethics bill. Currently, in order to pass the screening process at the French Blood Establishment (EFS), MSM must have previously respected a four-month period of abstinence, effectively excluding many of them from donating blood.

via HIV Justice

The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, once considered this kind of law "dangerous", calling it "not the right tool" to end discrimination. However, Véran recently posted on Twitter: "Giving blood will meet the same health safety requirements, regardless of one's sexuality. Parliament has just voted in principle. I will align the donor selection criteria in the coming months." Véran pleaded for the reduction of the abstinence period, saying: "If there were a situation, which would not even be linked to HIV, but which would oblige us to put in place emergency measures to protect recipients and donors, we would no longer be able to do so (otherwise)."

Next year, France will begin following the new British model of blood donor screening that includes a new, non-discriminatory questionnaire for potential donors. This model goes into effect on June 14, and it will allow people to donate blood if they've had the same sexual partner for 3 months, and if they have not had any recent exposure to STIs or are PrEP users.