The Netherlands have become the latest country to relax their blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men. Previously all men who have ever has sex with another man were banned from ever donating blood in the Netherlands, with the policy now being changed to allow donation provided the donor hasn’t had sex with a man in the previous 12 months. The move has been welcomed by some and condemned by others for being too little, too late given that many nations, including Australia, are now pushing to having the 12 month restrictions lowered further or dropped altogether.
Gay and bisexual men in the Netherlands are to be allowed to donate blood, as long as it is at least a year since they had sex with a man.
Men who have had sex with men are currently barred from donating blood. Announcing the change on Wednesday, health minister Edith Schippers said she is looking into reducing the 12-month waiting period. ‘I am both a supporter of emancipation and equal treatment and responsible for the provision of a safe blood supply in the Netherlands,’ Schippers told parliament in a briefing. ‘The 12-month period ends the permanent ban without threatening the safety of blood products.’ Gay rights lobby group COC described the change as symbolic.
The new policy is only in the interests of bisexual men in a long-term relationship with a woman, spokeswoman Tanja Ineke said.
Tanja Ineke the head of COC, which is cited as the oldest LGBT organisation in the world, has described the new policy as “very disappointing.” In an interview with broadcaster AT5, Ineke said, “The policy is only of practical importance for bisexual men in long-term monogamous relationships with a woman.”