France ends ban on gay men donating blood

Gay men in France will now be allowed to donate blood, authorities have announced. The ban had drawn criticism from civil rights groups claiming it was discriminatory.

France’s health minister announced the government was lifting its decades-long ban on gay men donating blood.

The lifting of the ban would be enacted over an extended period of time, Marisol Touraine said. Initially, only gay men who haven’t been sexually active within the past year will be allowed to give blood. By spring of 2016, all gay people will be permitted to donate.

France, like many other countries, introduced the ban in the 1980s as a measure to prevent the spread of AIDS. Since then, civil rights groups have called for a lifting of the ban, insisting it stoked prejudices against members of the LGBT community.

The health minister reflected those concerns in her announcement on Wednesday, saying the decision to lift the ban represents the end “of a taboo and discrimination,” the Associated Press reported.

Other countries that have similar bans in place include Australia, Britain, Sweden and Japan.