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Greece lifts decades-old blood donation ban on gay and bisexual men

Greece lifted on Monday the ban of blood donations imposed to gay or bisexual men since the 1980’s. Men who have had same-sex sexual relations will be able to donate blood in Greece as soon as the relevant Health Ministry decision is published in the Government Official Gazette.

On Monday, Health Minister Thanos Plevris and his deputy, Mina Gaga, signed a ministerial decree creating a new form that prospective blood donors must complete.

The new document removes homosexual acts from the list of criteria debarring someone from donating blood. It will come into force upon publication in the Government Gazette.

The existing blood donation document banned any man who has had sex with another man at any point since 1977 from donating blood.

Soon after becoming minister in September, Plevris requested the president of the National Blood Transfusion Center to review the ban, notes kathimerini.

Many countries introduced blood donation controls in the wake of the HIV/Aids epidemic in the 1980s when infected blood, donated by drug users and prisoners, contaminated supplies. Greece was one of the few countries that upheld the ban.

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  1. A great step forward! As a gay man I have not been allowed to donate blood on two emergency occasions on Kefalonia. And I have 0- which can be given to anyone. If I’m not mistaken, Brits still can not donate blood because of the Mad Cow Disease decades ago. I wonder if that will change too?

    • keeptalkinggreece

      In Germany still can’t, somebody told me.

      • No, it is not possible. I am a Swiss national living in Crete with 0- and was turned down when I wanted to donate blood on a regular basis for the same reasons as the Brits are.

  2. Is it true that Brits cannot donate if they lived in the UK when BSE was rife?

    • It’s not just Brits. Even Greek citizens who lived in the UK for over a specified length of time during the period that BSE was a concern cannot give blood. I don’t know the exact length of time or the years of concern.

      It is a problem for older ex-pats who find themselves needing operations. Typically the hospital estimates the units of blood that will be needed during the operation and the patient is expected to arrange for friends to donate that number of units before the operation takes place. Many find that their friends, who would be willing to donate blood, are not allowed to do so. The donated blood goes into the blood bank reserve and blood of the correct type is drawn from the reserve for the operation.