Cyprus Mail

Change to blood donation rules angers LGBT community (updated)

Υπουργός Υγείας – Αιμοδοσία // health m
The health minister giving blood on Tuesday

A change to the outdated blood donation eligibility requirements for gay men caused an uproar on social media on Tuesday as it still bans the specific group from donating blood unless they have a “controlled” sex life.

Netizens were wondering why there should be a special provision for gay men after Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas requested an update to an outdated requirement for blood donors following an urgent plea for blood donations.

The previous requirement banned gay men from donating blood unless they had abstained from sex in the last 12 months.

After the update, the guidelines on the website for homosexual men reads “men with a controlled sex life for more than 6 months: Accepted”.

No more details were provided as to the meaning of “controlled” sex life.

Under the criteria available on the website, sexually active gay women are allowed to donate blood while no such requirement was listed for straight men or women.

However, Health Ministry spokesman Constantinos Athanasiou told the Cyprus Mail that the mention “concerns everyone” and not just homosexual men.

“We already withdrew the wording, and we will proceed to the relevant update,” he said.

But the question still remains as to why the specific requirement was only listed under the homosexual men category.

“I don’t know what to say. This is a disgrace,” a Facebook user wrote in a group for LGBTI+ rights in Cyprus.

Another said the change “made it worse” as “discrimination still exists”.

The criterion also raises practical issues, specifically on how the blood donor’s sex life will be monitored.

“The bottom line is that it can’t be controlled for anyone. So it’s pointless to have this distinction,” another social media user wrote.

The update came less than a week after the health ministry urgently appealed for blood donors citing depleted blood banks due to the high number of coronavirus cases and contacts.

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Source: Cyprus News Agency