South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper has welcomed the announcement that a blanket ban on blood donation for any men who have had sex with men in the last three months will be lifted in Scotland, allowing gay and bisexual men to donate blood more easily.

The new rules mean that men who have sex with men will now be able to donate blood at any time, following recommendations by the group For the Assessment of Individualised Risk (FAIR). The changes will be implemented by summer 2021.

The South Scotland MSP has stated that this change is the right thing to do to promote equality for gay and bisexual men in terms of their ability to donate blood in Scotland. Ms Harper has also stated that the change will likely lead to a welcome increase in the number of people donating blood in Scotland.

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“These changes, which will ensure that all people can donate blood and are not assessed by their sexual orientation, are a huge step forward which will increase the number of much-needed blood donors throughout Scotland.

“For years, gay and bisexual men have been unable to donate blood unless they confirm that they have abstained from sexual intercourse with other men for a period of 3 months. It is therefore welcome, based on clinical recommendations, that this ban is to be lifted – providing equality for gay and bisexual men in Scotland.

“The introduction of this non-discriminatory risk assessment policy will judge each individual equally whether they are straight, bisexual or gay. This is hugely welcome and I pay tribute to my MSP colleague Rona Mackay who has championed this issue.

“Donating blood is a life-saving act and, with these changes set to be implemented in Scotland next year, I hope more people will consider donating so that many more lives can be saved.”