Gay and bisexual men in Holland will be allowed to donate blood for the first time under new regulations
However, it must be at least a year since the gay or bisexual man has had sex with another man.
Announcing the change on Wednesday, health minister Edith Schippers said she is looking into reducing the 12-month waiting period.
‘I am both a supporter of emancipation and equal treatment and responsible for the provision of a safe blood supply in the Netherlands,’ she said.
‘The 12-month period ends the permanent ban without threatening the safety of blood products,’ she added.
Gay rights lobby group COC described the change as symbolic. Spokeswoman, Tanja Ineke said, ‘The new policy is only in the interests of bisexual men in a long-term relationship with a woman.’
She said that the policy will make no real change for the vast majority of sexually active gay men in Holland.
Like in Ireland, gay men in the Netherlands were previously banned from donating blood regardless of how long it has been since they were sexually active.
In Ireland, several campaigns have been launched in an effort to reverse the ban. Gay Doctors Ireland denounced the ban as ‘unscientific’ and ‘outdated’.
In August 2013, a sexually-abstinent gay man claimed that the Irish Blood Transfusion Service had discriminated against him because he was homosexual rather than for any sexual acts he had participated in. This was despite the fact he had been a blood donor all his adult life.
Following this incident, a campaign group was established with the objective of lifting the lifetime restriction on gay men donating blood.
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