France’s health minister has confirmed that the country’s ban on gay blood donations will be lifted from spring next year.

France’s health minister says the country will end its ban on blood donation by gay men – saying it signals the end “of a taboo and discrimination.”

Marisol Touraine said beginning in the spring of 2016 “no blood donors can be refused based on their sexual orientation”.

Touraine said lifting ban will proceed in stages – to allow the government to study whether and how the risks change.

Though a 12-month deferral system will remain in place for some donations, parts of the new system will no longer discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and will instead judge each case on the basis of individual risk.

This means that gay people in monogamous relationships will be able to give blood – unlike in the UK.

At present in England, Scotland and Wales, men who have sex with men (MSM) are banned from giving blood unless they abstain from sex for 12 months.

The ban also affects many women who are married to bisexual men – as the ban also prevents women who have slept with MSM from giving blood.

Until 2011, MSM were permanently banned from giving blood across the UK – but the system was changed in England, Scotland and Wales.

In Northern Ireland, MSM remain banned for life from giving blood, as the country’s DUP Health ministers have repeatedly ignored medical advice and have kept a permanent ban in place.

Earlier this year it was announced that the number of people donating blood has fallen 40% in a decade, and the blood donation service could soon be in crisis. 

A growing number of MPs from across the political spectrum support a review of the ban.

The news comes after the Netherlands also recently ended their liftime blood ban on gay and bisexual men.

However – similar to the UK – the men must have not had any male partners for 12 months before donating to be considered acceptable donors.