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Germany to lift restrictions on gay blood donors

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Germany to lift restrictions on gay blood donors
A sign for "Blutspende" (blood donation) in Kiel's Landeshaus in October 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Molter

Germany will amend its guidelines for donating blood so the same rules apply to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, the country's health minister said on Tuesday.

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Official guidelines will be adapted so that potential donors are no longer assessed differently based on their sexual orientation, Karl Lauterbach told the RND broadcaster.

"Whether someone can become a blood donor is a question of behavioural risk, not sexual orientation," Lauterbach said.

"There must also be no hidden discrimination on this issue," he added.

According to current guidelines from the German Medical Association (BAK), men who have sex with men are only allowed to donate blood if they have not had "a new or more than one sexual partner" in the past four months.

Other people are assessed on whether they are "frequently changing partners".

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The rules date back to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, when gay men were thought to carry a higher risk of passing on the virus.

Under the new rules, potential donors will be assessed only on the "basis of the individual behaviour of the person willing to donate", according to RND.

An amendment to the law will come into force on April 1st, after which the BAK will have four months to come up with new guidelines, the report said.

The German Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD) welcomed the plans, calling them "long overdue".

Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus, a health expert for the liberal FDP party, said the previous guidelines were "not only out of date, but simply discriminatory".

"Anyone who wants to donate blood should be able to do so. Because donating blood saves lives," she said.

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