Greece removes restrictions on gay and bisexual men donating blood

Greece is the latest country to remove restrictions on gay and bisexual men and some trans women donating blood.

Like many countries Greece had banned gay, bisexual, trans folks and other men who have sex with men (MSM) from being blood donors during the early years of the AIDS pandemic, but with improved testing technology and better individual screening of donors the restrictions are no longer needed.

The country’s Health Minister Thanos Plevris and deputy Mina Gaga singed a ministerial decree to remove the restrictions on Monday 10th January. The ruling will become laws as soon as it’s published in the nation’s Government Gazette.

The decision comes after Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s centre-right government initiated a review last year. Activists have argued for years that the ban was no longer necessary describing it as deeply stigmatising and a hang-up of a bygone era.

Previously gay and bisexual men in Greece faced a life-long ban from being donors. Many countries have now removed the requirement including Britain, France and Hungary.

Australia has reduced the amount of time a gay or bisexual man must be celebrate in order to donate blood. Previously Australians had to cease sexual activity for 12 months to be able to donate blood, that time has now been reduced to three months.

Research has suggested that the three-month ban is also not required. A study released in October 2021 showed it is safe for Australia to drop its gay blood ban and adopt a policy of individual risk assessment instead with the nation benefiting from an increased supply of safe blood.

Quantitative researcher, Dr Sharon Dane, on behalf of LGBTIQ+ advocacy organisation, Just.Equal Australia, reviewed the current data and modelling comparing bans on gay blood donation such as Australia’s with a policy of screening donors for their individual risk.

The result of Dr Dane’s review is that there is no meaningful risk associated with lifting the gay blood ban and assessing donors on the basis of the risk associated with their individual sexual activity. Dropping the current gay blood ban would also increase the amount of safe blood available for people in need of blood products.

OIP Staff

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