Ban lifted on gay male blood donations; Advocates critical of new restrictions
A permanent ban on blood donations from homosexual men was lifted in place of new restrictions that state gay men may only donate blood if they have not had sex with another man over the last 12 months. The decision was announced by Edith Schippers, the Minister of Health, after she made her department's research on the subject available to members of Parliament. Because the ban still restricts sexually-active gay men from donating blood, even if they only practice safe sex, LGBT advocate Tanja Ineke found the new policy "very disappointing." In an interview with broadcaster AT5, Ineke, the head of non-profit COC Nederland, said, “The policy is only of practical importance for bisexual men in long-term monogamous relationships with a woman.” “I am a staunch supporter of emancipation and equality of people, and at the same time responsible for the safe blood supply in the Netherlands,” Schippers said in a statement. She said the year-long restriction is still necessary to guarantee donated blood is safe for use, adding that her office will continue researching the issue to determine if a shorter moratorium is possible. Ineke agreed that the security of the blood supply is the top priority, but said "the new policy will remain unnecessarily discriminatory. This proposal provides too little, too late." Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom maintain similar policy, Schippers said in her statement.