Portugal's gay men allowed to give blood


holdinghandsThe donation of blood by homosexuals will be allowed after all with certain sensible conditions. The decision is based on recommendations a working group at the Portuguese Blood Institute which have been accepted by the Ministry of Health.
The working group unanimously disapproved with the head of the blood service’s earlier calls for using homosexual behaviour per se as a basis for refusing blood donations and, with conditions, represents the end of a ban that had perturbed campaigners.

In April this year, the president of the Portuguese Institute of Blood, Hélder Trindade, said to the Parliamentary Committee on Health that a man who has had sex with another man will be excluded from making blood donations, adding that the Institute only accepts blood from gay donors if they are in a ‘sexually abstinent’ phase.

Following the statements, the Rumos Novos association for gay Catholics said that it had questioned the head of the Institute on the situation where there is an established male partnership, akin to a heterosexual marriage, pointing out that these people should not just be referred to as 'men who have sex with men.'

"We cannot but regret the latest ideas from the President of the Institute who rejects scientific knowledge and approaches the situation with the most backward and conservative views, like some in the Catholic hierarchy," stated the association in April.

The arguments are now over and sexually active gay men now can be blood donors, subject to temporary periods of suspension of 12 months after their last sexual contact, or six months after a new sexual partner.

The working group called also for the revision of the health questionnaire that donors fill in and the development of a clinical history recording system that will flag up high risk individuals.

The working group seems to have achieved a balance between non-discrimination towards donors and the imperative that any blood transfusion is safe and that "in situations of doubt the precautionary principle of maximum security must apply."