Malta decision to lift ban on blood donations for queer men comes into full effect

The announcement comes three years after it was initially decided the ban would be lifted, but a long deferral period remained.

An image of someone donating their blood. There is a nurse preparing their arm.
Image: via pexels

Malta has lifted its controversial ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. While the decision was initially announced three years ago, there remained a long deferral period until now. It also marks the beginning of Pride week in Malta.

Prime Minister Robert Abela said, “Pride Week should serve not only to remember with pride what we have achieved in recent years, but also to understand that the work in favour of equality can never stop. Today we will fulfil another electoral promise with new protocols for donating blood. In this way, we will have fairer protocols that remove any form of discrimination with LGBTIQ+ people where the parameters for a person to be able to donate blood will be equal for everyone. Reforms remain at the top of this Government’s agenda. Not least in the equality sector.”

According to Minister Chris Fearne, “We now have equipment that is very sensitive and analyses blood very thoroughly. For this reason, from today, gay men will be allowed to donate blood and therefore there will no longer be any discrimination based on sexual orientation when it comes to blood donation,”

Parliamentary secretary Rebecca Buttigieg also commented on the historic news saying, “This new blood donation protocol is a step forward for us. Gay men will no longer find closed doors when they make this generous step to donate blood.”

Previously in Malta, a deferral policy was in place to reduce the risk of transmitting the HIV virus when LGBTQ+ men expressed interest in donating blood. This policy was heavily criticised by Labour MEP Cyrus Engerer who expressed that decisions should not be made based not on “outdated fears, but science”.

This morning, Cyrus Engerer took to Twitter to celebrate the news saying “We have arrived! Congratulations to Randolph De Battista who during the last 10 years has made this his battle, especially in the Labor Party to remove any kind of prejudice against gay men. In just a few months in the Parliamentary Group, it led to today’s result. Thanks to PM Robert Abela who listened and to Chris Fearne and Rebecca Buttigieg who carried it out.”

In May, Austria also lifted their blood ban on LGBTQ+ people in a more progressive step toward inclusion and less discriminatory rules and regulations.

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