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As world leaders tiptoe around anti-gay blood bans, Hungary has just struck down its own almost completely

Patrick Kelleher May 7, 2020
blood donation gay bisexual hungary

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Hungary has scrapped an archaic policy which prohibited all men who had ever had sex with another man from donating blood for life.

Various countries across the world introduced bans on gay and bisexual men donating blood at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s.

In recent years, many countries have amended their bans, instead requiring gay and bisexual men to practice celibacy.

Hungary appears to have bypassed the celibacy requirement and will instead prohibit all people who engage in “risky” sexual behaviour from donating blood.

People who engage in ‘risky’ sexual behaviour will still be prohibited from donating blood in Hungary.

The country’s blood transfusion service revealed the change in policy in a statement published on its website last month, according to local LGBT+ group the Háttér Society.

“All discrimination based on the gender of the participants in the assessment of sexual relationships that are risky for transmission is eliminated,” a statement from the blood transfusion service said.

The society said the blood transfusion service will now accept donations from anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality — however, not everyone is included.

People who have multiple sexual partners as well as sex workers would continue to be prohibited from donating blood under the new restrictions.

PinkNews has contacted Hungary’s blood transfusion service to find out what they will consider to be sexually “risky” behaviour.

All discrimination based on the gender of the participants in the assessment of sexual relationships that are risky for transmission is eliminated.

It is expected that the sexual risk policy will also apply to heterosexual blood donors.

The policy change has been welcomed by the Háttér Society. The organisation said in a statement that they have spent years fighting the archaic lifetime ban.

The society said the lifetime ban wrongly implied that all gay and bisexual men are at risk of contracting HIV.

“We approached the Hungarian National Blood Transfusion Service several times, lastly in September 2018, and requested they justify the need to exclude MSM from blood donation for life,” the group said.

“Their reply, months delayed, was unsatisfactory and without substance.”

Hungary blood ban lifted following relaxations in other countries.

Hungary’s changed policy comes after the United States recently relaxed its blood donation deferral period from a year to three months.

Previously, gay and bisexual men in the US were required to remain celibate for an entire year before being eligible to donate blood.

Similar change was also recently made in Northern Ireland and Australia.

Most jurisdictions have refused to scrap their blood donation bans outright, meaning gay and bisexual men continue to face stigma and discrimination for their sexual orientation.

The news comes just weeks after Hungary’s far-right leader Viktor Orbán moved to strip away trans rights as part of a pandemic power grab.

Last month Orbán was granted the right to rule by decree indefinitely, meaning he no longer needs to consult other lawmakers before making decisions.

On the very same day his deputy introduced a new bill which, if passed, will replace “gender” with “birth sex” in all legal documents issued in the country.

According to the first draft, people’s sex would be recorded “at birth”, making it impossible to later change this status. The effect would be to legally erase Hungary’s transgender community, and it’s already driving them to suicide.

 

More: blood ban, Hungary

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