Persson: let gay men give blood

Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson has said that gay men should be allowed to give blood or donate organs, in an interview published on Thursday.

Men who have had sex with other men are banned from giving blood or donating organs in many countries, including the United States, because their sexual habits are deemed to increase the risk of spreading the HIV/AIDS virus.

In Sweden, they are also turned away from blood donor centres.

But in an interview with Pride, a supplement to Sweden’s QX magazine, Persson answered with a simple “yes” when asked whether gays should be allowed to give blood or donate organs.

Discouraging or banning homosexual men from giving blood is common but controversial, and has drawn angry protests from gay rights organizations.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration justifies its ban by saying that “there is scientific justification for screening out all potential donors who are men who have had sex, even once, with another man”.