The British government on Monday announced it will ease restrictions on gay and bisexual men who want to donate blood.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock in a press release notes “donors who have had one sexual partner and who have been with their sexual partner for more than three months will be eligible to donate regardless of their gender, the gender of their partner or the type of sex they have.” The press release notes the new policy will take effect in the U.K. next summer.
The country previously allowed gay and bisexual men to donate blood if they hadn’t had sex for three months.
The press release also notes gay and bisexual men under the new policy will “no longer be asked to declare if they have had sex with another man or their sexuality, making blood donation gender neutral and more inclusive.”
“By closely examining the latest evidence relating to blood donation and sexual behavior, we have been able to bring forward more inclusive policy to allow people to safely donate blood to save lives,” said Hancock.
Nancy Kelly, chief executive of Stonewall, a British LGBTQ rights group, welcomed the new policy.
“We want to see a blood donation system that allows the greatest number of people to donate safely,” said Kelly in a statement. “This change will help ensure more gay and bi men can donate blood, and represents an important first step towards a donation selection policy entirely based on an individualized assessment of risk.”
“We will continue to work with government to build on this progress and ensure that more people, including LGBT+ people, can donate blood safely in the future,” she added.
Monday’s announcement comes against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic that continues to ravage the U.K. and many other countries around the world. The U.K. on Dec. 8 began its coronavirus vaccination campaign.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in April announced gay and bisexual men can donate blood if they have not had sex with another man for three months. The previous deferral period was 12 months.