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Break-through for blood donations from gays

by Editorial Staff in Health & Body , 12 June 2012

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Parliament passed a motion that gay men should be allowed to donate blood again. COC Netherlands, which has lobbied for an end to the ban on blood donations from gay men for years, called it a break-through. Blood Bank Sanquin released a statement saying it wasn’t intent on adapting the guidelines, just yet.

Blood Bank Sanquin maintains that men who have sex with other men should not be allowed to donate blood.

Parliament passed a motion today, presented by members Van Gent (GroenLinks), Dijkstra (D66) and Marcouch (PvdA), calling to end this exclusion. The motion states that high risk sexual behavior should be the deciding criteria.

‘This ends the unnecessary discrimination of gay men who want to donate blood. That is definitely a break-through,’ says COC chair Vera Bergamo. Safety is number one with blood donations, and simply excluding gay men is not creating more safety; it’s about excluding gay and straight people that have unsafe sex!’

The current policy creates the situation that a promiscuous straight person, who’s having unsafe sex, can donate blood, while a gay person in a long-term monogamous relationship can’t.

Minister Van Bijsterveldt (emancipation) had promised that the government would issue a statement on the matter before the summer of 2012. She wanted to wait for a statement due from the European Council. Parliament is impatient and asks the government to end the ban straight away. In countries like Italy such bans have already been lifted. COC Netherlands has lobbied the end of the ban for years.

It repeated its appeal in a letter on emancipation policy to Parliament on the 7th of March. The motion that passed now is a direct result of that appeal.

Blood Bank Sanquin is not happy with this development and says to stick to its own regulations. It points out that only men who have sex with men are excluded, not necessarily homosexuals; it’s aimed at someone’s behavior, not sexual identity.

‘We look at high-risk behavior and sex between men is one of them. Take a look at the HIV-monitor and you see that the chance of an HIV infection for men having sex with men is about 100 times higher than for men that have straight sex,’ a spokesperson said on the radio.

‘Sanquin chooses for unnecessary discrimination,’ says COC chair Vera Bergamo. ‘Safety is what we want, and excluding gay men is not creating more safety; we should aim at excluding people that have unsafe sex! The COC hopes that minister Schippers will convince Sanquin. Countries like Italy, Sweden and Spain have preceded us in this.’



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