Brazil is the latest country to lift restrictions on gay and bisexual men giving blood as supplies dwindle in face of coronavirus pandemic
The Supreme Court in Brazil has thrown out decades-old restrictions on gay and bisexual men giving blood in a decision hailed as a human-rights victory for LGBT+ people in the country.
The court said that the ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood was unconstitutional.
Judges voted seven-four in favour of lifting the restrictions on Friday (May 8) that meant men who had sex with men had to remain celibate for 12 months before giving blood, ending the waiting period entirely.
Supreme Court Minister Edson Fachin argued that the ban offended the basic human dignity of gay and bisexual men.
“Instead of the state enabling these people to promote good by donating blood, it unduly restricts solidarity based on prejudice and discrimination,” wrote Fachin in his vote, according to Reuters.
Brazil is the latest country to lift restrictions on gay and bisexual men giving blood, as the coronavirus pandemic creates looming global shortages in supplies of donated blood.
But LGBT+ campaigners have been heavily critical of these countries for still only accepting blood from gay and bi men who have remained celibate for a number of months, even under the relaxed rules.
The rules on gay and bisexual men giving blood are a remnant of the Aids crisis, with critics blasting the restrictions as being based on stigma rather than science.
The sexual behaviour and history of every blood donor should be assessed before they can give blood, advocates of lifting the rules entirely say, rather than a blanket ban or period of celibacy for men who have sex with men.
The case reached Brazil’s Supreme Court in 2016, but it took the judges four years to make a decision.
Same-sex marriage is legal in Brazil, but president Jair Bolsonaro – who tested positive for coronavirus last month after a meeting with Donald Trump – has previously called himself a “proud homophobe”.
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Last year, the political opposition in Brazil said that Bolsonaro’s “macho ideas” are responsible for promoting violence against LGBT+ people and women in the country.
The Brazilian president also said last year: “Brazil can’t be a country of the gay world, of gay tourism. We have families.”