Denmark is modernizing its blood donation system by allowing men who have sexual relations with men (MSM) to donate blood.
The country’s health minister, Ellen Trane Nørby, said the move will “better embrace gender equality.”
“The authority [patient safety] has found a model we feel is safe and we will therefore incorporate it into Denmark,” Nørby said. “All safety mechanisms in our blood donation system are built on trust and we have some very advanced tests that screen the blood.”
The new rule, which will come in effect sometime in 2019, means MSM can donate blood if they have not had sex with a man within a period of four months. However, the deferral period is voided if the donor is in a relationship with just one partner.
This law change comes after decades of fear that men in the LGBTQ community would spread HIV if they give blood. Activists in the country argued the rule was outdated, as modern medical advances have lowered the rate of HIV throughout Europe. Denmark’s law was seen as especially outdated considering all donor blood has been screened in Denmark for the likes of HIV and hepatitis since 2009.
The fact the ban lasted so long comes as a surprise because Denmark has always been lauded for its devotion to LGBTQ rights. It was the first country to establish a National Association for Gays and Lesbians all the way back in 1948, during a time homosexuality was illegal in most countries. In 1989, it also became the first country to acknowledge same-sex unions.
Other LGBTQ rights the nation provides is same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, allowing all individuals to serve in the military, and allowing trans people to change their legal gender without a diagnosis, hormone therapy, surgery or sterilization.
Even if the law change is long overdue, Danish citizens were still satisfied with the news.
good news on this pride-day! gay men are now allowed to donate blood in denmark 😍 this day is already great
— maia #saveshadowhunters (@au_malec) August 18, 2018
Blood donations is still a controversial topic in the U.S. Despite the fact the Food and Drug Administration lifted the ban in 2015, there is still a 12-month wait period for men who have sex with men, which many view as discriminatory.