Over the years there has been a lot of conversation about ongoing bans on blood and plasma donations from men who have sex with men. The bans were generally put in place as the HIV/AIDS crisis began to ravage our community but have since been revealed to have any scientific basis, given modern medical advancements, and based in discrimination. Calls to wholly repeal the bans have been renewed in recent months given the ongoing global pandemic.
Hungary, one of Europe's countries that has been reticent to pass policies to advance LGBTQ+ equality, has answered that call. America, the beautiful, has not.
In mid-April the National Blood Transfusion Service of Hungary issued a new policy that all people, regardless of sexuality, can donate as long as their sexual behavior is not considered "risky" — the gender of partners will not play into risk assessment. Previously men who had sex with men were under a lifetime ban. The country backdated the policy, meaning that though it only was made publicly in April, they have been enforcing it since the beginning of the year.
“The Háttér Society has been fighting for years to stop the stigmatization and complete exclusion of a group of people [men who have sex with men] from blood donation,” wrote The Hatter Society, the country's largest LGBTQ+ organization. “A gay couple in a monogamous relationship, especially if they protect themselves against HIV by condoms or PrEP, is not more at risk than a heterosexual couple.” In Hungary, all who have sex with multiple partners would be considered "risky."
The news comes even amid Hungary's ongoing discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. The nation's prime minister has been pushing a bill that would bar people from updating their gender in accordance with their transition. That law is expected to pass. The country also has a ban on same-sex marriage and politicians have likened adoptions by queer families to sexual abuse on children.
While Hungary, with all of its systemic homophobia and transphobia, has completely dropped its ban, America has only altered guidelines, requiring gay and bisexual men to abstain from sex for a year in order to donate.