June 10, 2021

finally equality thanks to the bioethics law?

By admin2020

All French people over the age of 18 will be able to donate blood, without distinction according to sexual orientation, from January 1, 2022. LP / Arnaud Dumontier

© LP/Arnaud Dumontier
All French people over the age of 18 will be able to donate blood, without distinction according to sexual orientation, from January 1, 2022. LP / Arnaud Dumontier

To be able to donate blood freely, regardless of sexual orientation. In the coming months, blood donation will become accessible to everyone on the basis of the same criteria, for homosexuals as well as for heterosexuals. Until then, it did not go without saying.

Since 2019, blood donation has been open to men who have sex with other men, but on condition that they have observed sexual abstinence for four months before the blood sample. The new amendment abolishes this abstinence requirement.

This change, fundamental for homosexuals, must come into force from January 1, according to information revealed by our colleagues from Têtu and confirmed to the Parisian by a parliamentary source.

A societal advance

Banned from donating blood in 1983 because of the HIV epidemic, gay men were allowed to donate blood again in 2016 first, but only on condition that they had observed a full year of abstinence. In 2019, this deadline was therefore reduced to 4 months.

“Today, this period of abstinence is no longer justified, sweeps Gérard Leseul, deputy (PS) having reported an amendment almost similar to that tabled by the government, finally voted on Wednesday. This could be justified perhaps several decades ago, but the devices must evolve with the times. “

The news coincides with a call for donations from the French Blood Establishment (EFS), which faces a significant drop in blood stocks, linked to the health crisis in Covid-19. However, this amendment has more repercussions on the societal level than on the logistic level: the donation of blood from homosexual men will not be enough to compensate for the decline, but it sends an important message to the gay community. “This signal says Anyone can donate blood, let’s go », Rejoices Gérard Leseul.

Two years of debates, back and forth in parliamentary corridors, but the legislation on blood donation is about to change for good. Legislated under article 7bis of the bioethics bill, also in good progress to be fully voted, it will now require adjustments to achieve a homogenization of the practice of blood donation for all.

Thursday, shortly after the vote in the Assembly, the Minister of Health welcomed the news on his Twitter account. “Donating blood will meet the same health security requirements, regardless of one’s sexuality. Parliament has just voted in principle. I will thus align the donor selection criteria in the coming months, ”said Olivier Véran on Twitter.

At the heart of the change: donor eligibility criteria. There is no longer any question that sexual orientation appears in the questionnaire prior to the donation. The amendment stipulates that the selection of donors cannot be compromised by a criterion « not justified by the need to protect the donor or the recipient ”.

Faced with this formulation, Gérard Leseul wants to be cautious. “It is difficult to oppose this principle of health precaution, but it should not become discriminatory. The amendment must be translated into practice, ”he said. And the deputy to promise fieldwork to verify the proper conduct of the process when it comes into force in 2022. “Why not go to the blood donation centers”, he considers.

“Hundreds of hours of discussion”

Many countries – such as Spain, Italy, Israel and Poland – have already made non-discrimination in eligibility for donation into law. Unless there is a radical change, France should be the next state to take the plunge.

In the ranks of the hemicycle, some right-wing deputies believe that the text has not been sufficiently discussed. “Between the sessions at first reading and in committee there were hundreds of hours of discussion”, retorts Gérard Leseul. Now voted, the article goes back to the Senate with the entire text of the bioethics law, for the end of the shuttle procedure. Last vote scheduled for June 29.