Gay men can now start donating blood, in a change the LGBTIQ+ community has demanded for years, the Health Minister said on Friday.
Gay men were prohibited from donating blood to prevent the transmission of HIV, which is disproportionately prevalent among men who have sexual relationships with other men (MSM).
But on Friday, minister Chris Fearne said the ban was being lifted this week, as Malta kicks off Pride Week.
"We now have equipment that is very sensitive and analyses blood very thoroughly. For this reason, from today, gay men will be allowed to donate blood and therefore there will no longer be any discrimination based on sexual orientation when it comes to blood donation,” Fearne said.
The change was an electoral pledge that the Labour government was committed to keep, he added.
Addressing the same event, parliamentary secretary Rebecca Buttigieg said the change meant gay men will no longer be turned away when they wished to donate blood. This, she said, showed the government’s commitment to ensuring equality, especially at the start of Pride Week.
According to Fearne, in 2021, there were 16,500 donors, with 1,200 of them donating blood for the first time. Some 45 units of blood are used daily, the minister said.