Canadian health officials have lifted a ban on gay men donating blood, which had long been criticized as homophobic. The old rule prohibited men from donating blood if they had sex with another man within three months of giving blood, reports the BBC.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said was “good news for all Canadians” but had taken too long. According to AP, Trudeau said at a news conference the ban should have ended 10 to 15 years ago, but research proving it would not affect the safety of the blood supply had not been done by previous governments.
The policy change comes after Canadian Blood Services submitted a request last year to scrap the rule to Health Canada. As of 30 September, prospective donors will instead be screened for whether they engage in any higher-risk sexual behaviours.
Trudeau stated that his government spent C$5 million (US$3.9 million) on research into the safety aspects of changing blood donation rules, and that multiple scientific reports demonstrated that “our blood supply will continue to be safe.”
Per BBC News, Health Canada granted Canadian Blood Services’ request to end the policy that prohibits homosexuals from donating blood for three months after engaging in gay sex.
The blood service requested permission from Health Canada to eliminate questions about gender or sexuality and instead base screening on higher-risk sexual behavior such as anal sex.
The donation ban was initially for life, but that policy was first eased in 2013, when men were allowed to give after abstinent for five years. That was later eased to the current three-month period. Trudeau’s Liberal party first promised to end the donation ban during the 2015 federal election campaign.