The Minister for Health in Denmark, Ellen Trane Nørby, has announced that the country will lift its blood donor ban on men who have sex with men.
In a landmark decision on the much criticised ‘gay blood ban’, the Minister revealed plans to remove the ban by 2019. This means that gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships will be able to donate blood regardless of when they last had sex. For single men, however, they must be celibate for at least four months before they can donate.
Minister Nørby said the reason for the decision was to enable gender equality. She stated they had “found a model we feel is safe and we will therefore incorporate it into Denmark. All safety mechanisms in our blood donation system are built on trust and we have some very advanced tests that screen the blood.”
It is a welcome move in the battle to end assumptions about men who have sex with men. Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell recently launched a challenge to governments worldwide to ‘Screen The Blood Not The Sexuality’.
Tatchell said: “These restrictions may have made sense when first enforced in the 1980s at a time when HIV was primarily affecting gay and bisexual men in the West and when HIV testing methods were less accurate. But long ago HIV ceased to be allied to any particular sexual orientation and the testing of donated blood is now very exhaustive and accurate.”
He continued, “It is time that blood banks worldwide focused more on identifying and excluding individuals who’ve engaged in high risk behavior – regardless of whether they are gay or straight – instead of making assumptions that all gay and bisexual men are a high risk of HIV.”
Peter Tatchell recently appeared on GCN’s Queer and Alternative Podcast speaking about his life and times, coming out to his religious fundamentalist parents, the beginning of the gay rights movement in London, and overcoming fear to put himself in harm’s way for other people’s human rights over 50 years of direct activism.
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