Despite a poor record in progress for LGBT+ equality rights, Hungary has lifted all bans on blood donation for men who have sex with men (MSM), ahead of more progressive nations.
Bans on blood donation for MSM are a relic from the HIV/AIDS crisis-era with most countries requiring the donors to not have sex for 3 months or 12 months as is still the case in New Zealand and Australia.
In Hungary, though there was a lifelong ban on donations from MSM, however, since mid-April, all of their blood donation rules were cancelled and under the new blood donation policy, all people can act as a donor if their sexual behaviour is not considered “risky.”
Separately, the National Blood Transfusion Service of Hungary stated that gender of partners will not affect risk assessment.
It is noted that although the innovations were only announced in April, meaningless homophobic bans were abandoned from the beginning of the year.
The country’s largest LGBT+ organisation The Hatter Society wrote in a statement that they have been fighting for years to stop the stigmatization and complete exclusion of a group of MSM people from blood donation.
“A gay couple in a monogamous relationship, especially if they protect themselves against HIV by condoms or PrEP, is not more at risk than a heterosexual couple,” The Háttér Society statement read.
The change in Hungarian regulations does not mean that men who have sex with men can now donate blood without restriction.
They remain excluded if their sexual behaviour carries risks that would also pose a risk in the case of heterosexual sexual intercourse (such as casual sexual intercourse, frequent change of partners, prostitution).
The good news about the blood ban comes against continued discrimination against LGBT people in Hungary, notably the recent events which have seen the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, using state of emergency legislation in the COVID-19 crisis to “put an end to the legal recognition of transgender people.”