Blood donation exclusion: sexual abstinence period reduced to 4 months

Blood donation exclusion: sexual abstinence period reduced to 4 months
Credit: Belga

The government has approved a bill initiated by the Belgian Socialist Party (PS) to change the criteria for excluding blood donation.

Currently an exclusion period exists on blood donation by men having sexual intercourse with other men. Blood donation can only be performed from 12 months after the last sexual intercourse, which is seen as discrimination.

The new bill passed in the Chamber on Thursday reduces this period to four months, starting from 1 July 2023.

The text is the result of a compromise between the parties. Several parties, including the PS, would have liked to completely eliminate what appears to be discrimination, but were happy to start with this first step.

The debates in Parliament focused in particular on first opinions from the Flemish Red Cross and the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine, both expressing fears about the quality of the blood.

These arguments led the N-VA to abstain, claiming to want to apply the precautionary principle. However, the arguments put forward did not convince DéFI, which tried to amend the proposal in order to remove any period of abstinence.

Ecolo-Groen has already tabled a new bill aimed at completely abolishing any abstinence period, starting from 2024.

The MR on its part has assured its support for a future proposal aimed at eliminating the waiting period completely, which they regard as discrimination. The PTB  approved the text, recognising this “small progress” as “symbolic”.

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