‘Landmark’ rule changes will mean that more gay and bisexual men will soon be allowed to donate blood.
Rules have previously stated that men who have sex with men had to abstain from sex for three months before giving blood.
But following recommendations from the Advisory Committee for the Safety of Blood Tissues and Organs (SaBTO), 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.
This will be ‘regardless of their gender, the gender of their partner, or the type of sex they have.’
The changes will be implemented by summer 2021.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This landmark change to blood donation is safe and it will allow many more people, who have previously been excluded by donor selection criteria, to take the opportunity to help save lives.
“This is a positive step and recognises individuals for the actions they take, rather than their sexual preference.”
Minister for Blood Donation, Lord Bethell added: “By closely examining the latest evidence relating to blood donation and sexual behaviour, we have been able to bring forward more inclusive policy to allow people to safely donate blood to save lives.
“I am grateful to the members of the FAIR steering group, including LGBT charities, for the work they have done over the last 18 months to enable us to bring this policy, which many have called for, to fruition.”
Ethan Spibey, founder of FreedomToDonate, said the organisation “warmly welcomed” the rule change.
He said: “We have campaigned for over 6 years for the restrictions on men who have sex with men (MSM) donating blood to be updated.”
Spibey added: “The work of the FAIR steering group shows that simply being a MSM is not a good enough reason to exclude someone from donating blood.
“We’ve made great progress and look forward to continuing to work with the Government and others to ensure as many people who could safely donate blood can do so.”
Read more about the changes on the government website.