CHANGES to the questions people are asked before they are accepted as blood donors come into effect today, meaning all potential donors are treated the same.
The changes, implemented on World Blood Donor Day, will allow more men who have sex with men, and people whose partners have previously lived in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa, to give blood if they meet the other blood donation criteria.
The changes follow recommendations by the specialist research group For Assessment of Individualised Risk (FAIR), made up of leading medical and academic experts and LGBTI+ groups.
Public Health Minister Maree Todd said: “I welcome the changes being made today and am grateful to everyone who currently gives blood and everyone who wants to give blood in future.
“Your support is vital to save lives and ensure our NHS has enough blood components to meet the needs of all those who will need a blood transfusion.
“Previous rules meant that automatic time bars were in place for a number of people, including men who have sex with men.
“It’s clear that such a blanket approach was simply not fair – not least to gay and bisexual men in committed relationships.
“There are also some people who have partners who previously lived in sub-Saharan Africa, but have been in the UK for a long time.
“These changes to the questions will allow more people in these groups to donate, and continue to ensure the blood supplied to our hospitals is safe.”
Development Manager for the Equality Network Scott Cuthbertson said: “I’ve been campaigning on the issue of blood donation for gay and bisexual men for over 15 years, and I welcome the support of Scottish Ministers in approving this change.
“For me this was never about a right to give, but the fact that there were many gay and bisexual men that could do so safely.
“I’m pleased the evidence, assessed by experts, has concluded that to be true, and that many thousands of gay and bisexual men will be able to donate their blood and help save lives.
“Today, during Pride Month, I’m proud to donate my blood for the first time alongside many other gay and bisexual men across the UK as the rules are changed to be fairer for all.”