Men who have sex with men are often pretty much banned from donating blood across the board. Now the rules are about to change.

Restrictions on homosexual men are to be lifted when donating blood in Germany. That is the goal of a government requirement for the German Medical Association, which was decided on Wednesday by the German cabinet in Berlin. “When it comes to assessing the risk of donating blood, in future only the individual sexual behavior of people who want to donate blood should be considered,” the government said. “Sexual orientation and gender identity should no longer play a role.”

As a result of the requirement, the German Medical Association is to change its relevant blood donation guidelines. The directive, which is still in force, provides for distinctions, especially with regard to HIV, in order to minimize the “risk of transmission of serious infectious diseases that can be transmitted through blood”. For example, men who have sex with men are deferred from donating for four months after sexual contact with a new or more than one sexual partner. In the case of sexual intercourse between women and men, on the other hand, only those who have “frequently changing partners” are deferred for four months.

Now there should no longer be any group-related criteria for exclusion or deferral from donating blood. At the same time, the government emphasized: “The high level of safety for blood products and the protection of recipients should be maintained.”

According to the German Aidshilfe, blood donations are checked for HIV and other infections before they are used. In addition, potential donors would also be asked about their “infection-relevant behavior”. So far, however, men who have sex with men have been excluded “far too generally”.

The Aidshilfe, for example, had criticized that sexual contacts between men outside of a permanent monogamous relationship had led to an exclusion for four months. According to Aidshilfe, another version of the guideline was in effect before 2021, in which men who have sex with men were only allowed to donate blood if they had not had sex with a man for a year.

The SPD, Greens and FDP had already announced in their coalition agreement that they wanted to abolish the ban on blood donation for men who have sex with men and for trans people.