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U.K. Could Jump Further Ahead of U.S. on Gay Blood Ban

U.K. Could Jump Further Ahead of U.S. on Gay Blood Ban

Blood Donation

Gay and bisexual men are still banned for life from donating blood in the U.S.

The United Kingdom will once again look at ending a ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood, its public health minister said today.

The BBC and others report that Jane Ellison told the House of Commons today that "it is time to look again at the question."

The United Kingdom is already further ahead of the U.S., having revised its rules in 2011 when it went from a total ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood to a one-year waiting period. Earlier this month, France followed suit and officials say a four-month waiting period might be next.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration recommended new draft guidelines that also implement the one-year waiting period, meaning any man who has had sex with another man in the last 12 months is barred from donating -- and that any sexually active gay or bisexual men are still banned for life.

And the FDA has no clear guidelines on how to treat transgender people, who it groups together and treats like gay men.

Earlier this month, Twitter took a stand against the U.S. policy and ended its company blood drive until all gay male employees could take part. The ban has existed since 1983.

"These are the only policies that the FDA has based on a person's identification and not any type of risky behavior that they're engaged in," said Jim Halloran, president of TwitterOpen, in an interview with International Business Times.

In the U.K., Ellison claimed the one-year waiting period isn't discrimination based on sexual orientation.

"It is important to put it on the record that the blood service does not discriminate on sexual orientation," she said, according to The Guardian. "Lesbians are free to give blood and their blood donations are extremely appreciated. The deferral period is based on sexual activity, and it applies to a number of other groups other than just men who have sex with men."

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