The UK is easing the gay blood ban, ever so slowly:
The ban on gay men donating blood is being lifted because it was decided that the rule could be discriminatory and might breach equality legislation.
However, gay men will only be permitted to donate if they have not had sexual intercourse for a decade. Homosexuals who are or have recently been sexually active will continue to be barred from giving blood.
It's slightly less ridiculous and maybe there are two or three dozen gay men that this will apply to in the UK.
The reason for the ten-year wait?
Donated blood is screened for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases but a tiny number of infections are missed because there can be a time lag before they show themselves.
According to the British AIDS charity AVERT, the lag time on HIV tests is three weeks. So a ten-year ban after each act of gay sex is completely reasonable.
I posted last week about how sexuality can be defined based on identity, attraction, or behavior. The first two are obvious to folks in my generation while the third is a bit off; people are what they say they are but those words are meant to describe something real (even if it's something hard to see like desire), but just having sex with someone of the same sex once or in the past does not a gay or bi person make.
But there was a time when behavior was primarily used to describe someone's sexual orientation and there are still people around who believe that (see: conservatives when they talk about getting people out of the homosexual lifestyle). The Kinsey scale, for example, is based entirely on behavior, which is why so many gay people call themselves Kinsey 6's and might not get the idea of sexual fluidity as Kinsey saw it because he was talking about the sex people had, not who they were attracted to.
The gay blood ban is one of those instances where we're still defining sexuality by behavior. LGBT people quite willingly call it a ban on gay and bi men giving blood, but that's not the question that the Red Cross asks; the goal of the ban is to keep all men who have had sex with men since 1977, regardless of attraction or identity.
The UK, though, will just ban men who've had sex with men since 2001. Neither Spain nor Italy ban blood from men who have had sex with men, for any time period, and instead determine risk based on promiscuity and sex practices. Several other countries have a one to five year waiting period. I haven't heard of any incidents of someone getting HIV through a blood transfusion recently in those countries.