Recently, the French National Assembly has passed an amendment permitting gay and bisexual men to donate blood. These blood donations will be under the same conditions as they are for straight men. The measure will go into effect in January 2022.
The amendment to Article 7 bis of the bioethics bill states,” The criteria for selecting donors (…) may not be based on any difference in treatment, in particular with regard to the sex of the partner or partners with whom the donors have had a sexual relationship.”
What Does the Law Look Like Now for Gay or Bisexual Men Donating Blood?
Presently, to pass the screening process at the French Blood Establishment (EFS), gay or bisexual men must have had four months of abstinence. Because of this requirement, many gay and bisexual men are not able to donate blood.
What Are the Opinions of France’s Minister of Health?
The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, viewed this law as “dangerous” and claimed it was “not the right tool” to end discrimination.
Véran recently posted on Twitter:
“Giving blood will meet the same health safety requirements, regardless of one’s sexuality. Parliament has just voted in principle. I will align the donor selection criteria in the coming months.”
He also implored for reducing the abstinence period:
“If there were a situation, which would not even be linked to HIV, but which would oblige us to put in place emergency measures to protect recipients and donors, we would no longer be able to do so (otherwise).”
When will the new British model of blood donor screening go into effect?
Next year, France will follow the new British model of blood donor screening, which goes into effect on June 14th. This screening includes a non-discriminatory questionnaire for those who want to donate blood. It will also permit individuals to donate blood if they’ve had the same sexual partner for three months. They will also be eligible if they have had no recent STI exposures or they are PrEP users.
This year, Adrien Taquet, Secretary of State for Child Protection, was the one who put forth the argument in the Assembly. He said,
“The Minister of Health had undertaken to present new elements. (…) The residual risk of HIV among blood donors has decreased considerably in recent years. Santé Publique France now estimates it at 1 in 11.6 million donations.”
What Is the History of Gay and Bisexual Men Donating Blood in France?
The Directorate General of Health from June 20th, 1983, banned gay and bisexual men from donating blood. This came into effect during the HIV epidemic. However, on January 12th, 2009, this ban was recalled by a ministerial decree.
On April 3rd, 2015, a deputy member of the UMP party, Arnaud Richard, put forth an amendment against the exclusion of bisexual and gay men from donating blood. It was then adopted later in the month.
In November of 2015, Minister of Health Marisol Touraine declared that gay and bisexual men in France could donate blood after abstaining from sex for a year. This policy went into effect on July 10th, 2016.
In July of 2019, the Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn stated that the deferral period would be reduced to only four months of abstinence, taking effect in April 2020.
What are LGBTQ+ Rights like in France?
LGBTQ+ rights in France are considered to be some of the most progressive in the world. Even though same-sex sexual activity was known as a capital crime resulting in the death penalty during the Ancien Régime, sodomy laws were then repealed in 1791 during the French Revolution. However, there was a less commonly known indecent exposure law that targeted LGBTQ+ people, and it was introduced in 1960. Twenty years later, this law was repealed.
France was the thirteenth country in the world that legalized same-sex marriage and did so in 2013. They created laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in 1985 and 2012.
In 2010, France was the first country to recognize and declare gender dysphoria as a mental illness. Since 2017, transgender people in France have been allowed to change their legal gender without undergoing gender affirmation surgery or receiving a medical diagnosis.
France has also been named one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries worldwide, as well as Paris being one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities. Le Marais, Quartier Pigalle, and Bois de Boulogne are known for their flourishing LGBTQ+ nightlife and community. According to recent polls, the majority of French people approve and support same-sex marriage.
What Are Some Highlights From the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement in France?
LGBTQ+ rights organizations based in France include Act Up Paris, SOS Homophobie, Arcadie, FHAR (Front homosexuel d’action révolutionnaire), Gouines rouges, GLH (Groupe de libération homosexuelle), CUARH (Comité d’urgence anti-répression homosexuelle), L’Association Trans Aide, and Bi’Cause.
The first pride parade in France took place in Paris on April 4th, 1981, at the Place Maubert. CUARH organized this event, and about 10,000 people attended it. Paris Pride (Marche des Fiertés de Paris) is now an annual event that takes place in June. The turnout has dramatically increased since the 80s, with approximately 100,000 attendees in the late 90s.
In 2019, 500,000 people attended Paris Pride. This event is the third-largest in the entire city of Paris, following the Paris Marathon and the Paris Techno Parade.
There are also Pride events throughout other cities in France. These cities include Rennes, Marseille, Nantes, Montpelllier, Toulouse, Lyon, Lille, Bordeaux, Cannes, Grenoble, Rouen, Biarritz, Aix-en-Provence, Angers, Poitiers, Caen, Strasbourg, Auxerre, Dijon, Nice and Avignon.