One year ago, Portugal’s newspapers reacted to a ban on homosexual and bisexual blood donors - “unless they were celibate” being one of the more noteworthy utterances from the health ministry.
This week, clinical standards are 'being established' by the Directorate General for Health (DGS) but these have not yet been discussed with user groups and organisations.
In response to a Left Bloc parliamentary questions today, the Assistant Secretary of State for Health promised public consultation ‘shortly’ and to hear from "civil society organisations" but says the necessary procedures are delayed “until the end of 2017.”
Therefore, for the time being, homosexual and bisexual donors remain prohibited from giving blood despite this being discriminatory.
The previous coalition government sought an end the exclusion of gay and bisexual donors, but people still are being turned away from blood donor centres.
Back in 2010, the Left Bloc sought an end to penalising people for being gay by submitting a petition to parliament which aimed “to eliminate discrimination and lay down the rules for the suspension of blood donors with risky behavior, rather than the concept of banning those in a risk group."
The Ministry of Health is now waffling on to cover up why it has done little in the past 12 months: "the goal is to align the proposal" rules "with the best international practices," including "discussions with the organisations in civil society, an important factor for the credibility of the decisions that will be taken."
The last government told the Heath Directorate to get something together by October 2015, which it failed to do.
The draft standards document was never drafted, blood collection sites continue to discriminate based on the sexual orientation of willing donors and the parliamentary resolution remains unfulfilled.
The Left Bloc also is not impressed with the current working group within the Portuguese Institute of Blood and Transplants which wants the total suspension of blood donations from men who have sex with men, but recommends a partial exclusion if the donor has not had sex for a long time.
For the left Bloc, "this solution suffers the same stigma, it considers homosexuality and bisexuality a risk and perpetuates prejudice."