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Gay community unhappy with blood donation rule change

2018/01/22 20:34:56

CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 22 (CNA) Although the government is set to ease rules for blood donation by men who have sex with men, the gay community is unhappy with the coming change, arguing Monday that a broader move is needed to have any substantive impact.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced earlier that day that rules for blood donations by men who have sex with men will be eased in a near future in line with global practices.

The rule change, which is expected to take effect in May at the earliest, will allow men who have sex with men to donate blood if they have not engaged in such sex for five years, according to the ministry.

The rule could be further eased in one or two years to allow men who have not had sex with men for one year to donate blood, Chi Jo-feng (祁若鳳), an official with the ministry's Food and Drug Administration said.

Currently, men who have sex with men, people who are HIV positive and those with malignant tumors or leukemia are banned from donating blood in Taiwan.

Despite suggestions the move could be considered a positive step toward eliminating discrimination against gay men, Tu Tsu-cheng (杜思誠), director of the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association's Policy Promotion Department, called for a quicker pace.

"Five years is really too long and it goes against human nature," Tu said. Pointing to Hong Kong as an example, Tu said the territory has allowed men who have not had sex with men for a year to donate blood since last year, and he expressed the hope that Taiwan will follow suit quickly.

Claiming that the change is more a gesture than a substantial improvement, Tu said "you can call a principle fair only when it can be equally applied to homosexuals, heterosexuals and bisexuals."

(By Wu Hsin-yun and Flor Wang)