France

France faces suit over no-sex rule for blood donations by gay men

A Frenchman has filed a discrimination suit at Europe's top rights court over a rule that requires gay men to refrain from having sex for a year before they donate blood, his lawyer said on Friday.

Laurent Drelon, 48, has been prohibited from giving blood several times since he first tried to do so in 2004.

His complaint, lodged at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, comes after France's Council of State upheld in late 2017 the rule barring gay men from donating unless they have not had sex for a year.

"It's the first time that the ECHR will make a decision on whether French legislation is discriminatory or not," Drelon's lawyer, Patrice Spinosi, told AFP.

Gay men were prohibited from giving blood in 1983 over fears about the spread of HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. The rule was lifted in 2016, but officials said gay men would first have to pledge during a preliminary interview at a blood bank that they had not had sex for twelve months.

HIV screening is often part of the required testing of blood donation samples.

The abstinence rule "is based solely on a person's sex and sexual orientation… and violates the right to privacy" as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, Spinosi said.

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