U.K. to Ease Rules on Blood Donations by Gay and Bisexual Men

Britain announced on Monday that it would loosen restrictions on blood donation by gay and bisexual men beginning next year, a shift in policy called “landmark” by the government and hailed by activists who have long fought rules they described as discriminatory.

The change will take effect next summer after the recommendations of a health committee that said a blanket ban on sexually active gay or bisexual men donating blood should be lifted. The government accepted these recommendations, saying that the changes would not affect the safety of the blood supply.

“This landmark change to blood donation is safe and it will allow many more people, who have previously been excluded by donor selection criteria, to take the opportunity to help save lives,” Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, said in a statement on Monday.

The current rules stipulate that “all men must wait three months after having oral or anal sex with another man before donating.”

A statement released on Monday by the National Health Service removes the three-month barrier and says that gay and bisexual men who have had the same sexual partner for more than three months will be allowed to donate if there is no known exposure