Men who have sex with men are now allowed to donate blood, even without a permanent partner

by time news
Men who have sex with men are now allowed to donate blood, even without a permanent partner

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport announced this today. “I am pleased that individual risk behavior is leading the donor selection policy and not someone’s orientation,” writes Minister Ernst Kuipers in a letter to parliament.

Years of discussion

It is a new breakthrough in a longstanding debate about whether gay and bisexual men should be allowed to donate blood. A few years ago, in 2015, it became possible for them to donate blood if they had not had sexual contact for four months. A new step followed in September 2021 when donation became possible for men with a permanent partner of the same sex.

A new adjustment of the donor policy is now being prepared, so that blood donation is also possible for men without a permanent partner. Blood bank Sanquin indicates that it is still investigating the possibilities and risks.

“We had already announced that we wanted to broaden the policy,” says spokesperson Merlijn van Hasselt. “That needed additional research, we are still working on that.” Sanquin expects to have results from this in the second half of this year. The intended start date of January 1, 2023 is feasible, according to the spokesperson.

It is not yet known which questions will be asked to determine ‘individual risk behaviour’. That is also part of the research. “We look at exactly what you can ask and how you should ask those questions.”

‘Step forward’

Sanquin is happy with the new step. “It is sometimes interpreted that we are old-fashioned, but we have been working for years to see if there is an opening to widen it and how. We have caught all those openings,” says Van Hasselt. “Dutch policy is also at the forefront. We are happy that we can take those steps and will always do so carefully.”

For COC Netherlands, which has been committed to policy change for many years, it is another important breakthrough. “We are happy with this step forward. As far as we are concerned, it should be decisive whether you have safe sex, and not with whom you have sex,” said spokesman Philip Tijsma. “We have been advocating this for years. The persistence wins, although we could have liked it faster.”

Tijsma says it is positive that the last obstacles will now disappear. “We will monitor it critically. Questions about risky behavior will be decisive and that must be proportional. You cannot give people endless questionnaires,” he believes.

Minister Rob Jetten also reacts positively. Jetten was actively involved in the policy change during his time as a Member of Parliament. “An end to discrimination. An important milestone that has been fought for for years,” he writes on Twitter.

Minister Kuipers responds: “It is an important change that gays who have safe sex will soon also be able to donate blood. I hope this will lead to a significant increase in blood donation. I am very happy with it.”

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