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France removes restrictions on gay blood donors

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By AFP  with Euronews
Gay French men could only donate blood if they declared they were sexually abstinent for four months.
Gay French men could only donate blood if they declared they were sexually abstinent for four months.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File

France is to allow LGBT citizens to donate blood without "discriminatory" conditions, the country's health ministry has announced.

From 16 March, blood donation will be open to all French citizens regardless of their sexual orientation, health minister Olivier Véran said.

"We are putting an end to an inequality that was no longer justified," Véran said on Twitter.

Jérôme Salomon, France's director-general of health, added that references to sexual orientation will be removed from blood donor forms.

"Any person will arrive as an individual donor," he told a press briefing on Tuesday.

LGBT+ donors have in theory been able to donate blood since July 2016 if they declared that they had not been sexually active for one year. The time period was later reduced to four months in 2019 but will now be removed.

A ban on gay men giving blood in France was initially put in place in 1983 due to the risk of the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

But Salomon explained that the level of risk has been "falling steadily for decades" and a ban on LGBT blood donors could be lifted.

French citizens will still be asked if they have had treatment for HIV in the four months before giving blood, as well as questions relating to recent sexual activity or drug use.

A number of other European countries -- including Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom -- have already lifted bans on gay men donating blood.