Blood donation laws for gay men relaxed under new equality reforms

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Gay men will be able to donate blood three months after having sex rather than having to wait a year.

New equalities reforms, announced by Education Secretary Justine Greening, will also allow transgender people to choose their legal gender more easily.

Fears over infections being passed on through donations from gay men led to an outright ban at the height of the Aids epidemic.

But in 2011 the law was changed to mean gay men could donate but only 12 months after intercourse.

And medical advances mean the time limit will now be reduced again under plans for the NHS in England.

justine-greening.jpg

Reforms: Justine Greening (AFP/Getty Images)

Ms Greening, who is also equalities minister, said the Government was building on the progress on tackling prejudice made in the 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality.

She said: “We will build on the significant progress we have made over the past 50 years, tackling some of the historic prejudices that still persist in our laws and giving LGBT people a real say on the issues affecting them.”

The government will also be consulting on reforms that would mean transgender people will no longer need a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before changing their sex legally.

Ms Greening said she wanted to cut the stigma faced by transpeople, who have to provide evidence that they have been in transition for at least two years before they can apply to legally change their gender.

It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May earlier this week indicated she was preparing to reform the Gender Recognition Act, saying that “when it comes to rights and protections for trans people, there is still a long way to go”. 

Ethan Spibey, founder of the FreedomToDonate group that has campaigned for reform, said: “Today’s announcement from the Government marks a world-leading blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men and the other groups previously restricted.

“I’m so proud that the work of FreedomToDonate and our supporters will help ensure more people than ever before are allowed to safely donate blood.”

Alex Phillips, blood donations policy lead at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We’re pleased to see a further reduction in the deferral period for men who have sex with men and we welcome this progress.

“However, we urge the Government to invest in gathering more robust scientific evidence on the risk of transmission of blood-borne viruses from men who engage in oral sex with men.

“We know from clinical and epidemiological experience that the risk of HIV from oral sex is extremely low, but this review has missed the opportunity to gather the robust evidence needed to update the policies.”


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