The French government has decided to end its discriminatory policy limiting gay and bisexual men’s ability to donate blood.
The French health ministry announced on Wednesday that men who have sex with men will be able to donate blood without having to abstain from sexual activity, France 24 reports. At the moment, gay and bisexual men in the European nation must stop having sex for a year in order to give blood. This new policy change lowers that deferral period to four months, with the aim of doing away with a deferral period entirely by February 2020. It is unclear how any of these laws affect trans women, who are often — though obviously problematically — included under medical terms like “male” and “men who have sex with men.”
France had once banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood, period, thanks to a homophobic, scientifically unsound law passed in response to the growing HIV/AIDS crisis in 1983. But men who have sex with men have been able to legally give blood since 2016, as long as they don’t have sex for a year.
The United States currently has a similar deferral period of 12 months, as do Japan, Sweden, Australia, and other countries. Challenged by activists as discriminatory, the United States’ yearlong deferral policy is just one of the many ways that the government incorporates HIV and AIDS into our system of laws. Another are our states’ various HIV criminalization laws, which have led to the unfair incarceration of people like Michael Johnson and countless others.