On Wednesday, at a transfusion center in Switzerland, Gabriel Delabays sat quietly with his feet propped up on a recliner while a nurse took his left arm’s blood. This was the first day that gay males in the nation could donate blood without additional limitations.
Switzerland changed the requirements for males who have sex with other men in order to make blood donation ineligible for both heterosexual and homosexual men.
“I’m moved that we made it, especially after such a long battle,” said Delabays, a member of the communal council in the Lausanne suburb of Ecublens who represents the Swiss Liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).
“In some ways, I think this is a small page in a history book that says: On Nov. 1, 2023, Switzerland allowed homosexuals to donate their blood more easily.”
Under Switzerland’s new regulations, a four-month waiting period applies to all people after their last sexual encounter with a new partner – heterosexual or homosexual – or a 12-month waiting period if sexual contacts have taken place with more than two partners within the last four months.
Until 2017, gay men were systematically barred from giving blood in Switzerland, a policy dating to the start of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.
Since then, men sexually active with other men were allowed to donate blood only if 12 months had passed since their last homosexual encounter.
“The main feeling we have is ‘finally’. Finally we can take part in society in this way,” said Gaé Colussi, regional officer for the French-speaking part of Switzerland at Pink Cross, which represents the interests of gay and bisexual men across the country.