They’re the two countries you’d least expect to do it, but Hungary and Brazil have both lifted blood donation bans for gay and bisexual men.
As reported by Gay Times, the Hungarian National Blood Transfusion Service actually lifted the ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood last January and had the documents published in the middle of April, but the move only came to light recently.
According to a statement released by the service, “All discrimination based on the gender of the participants in the assessment of sexual relationships that are risky for transmission is eliminated.”
Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that Brazil’s Supreme Court has overturned the rules limiting gay and bisexual men from donating blood, with seven out of 11 justices voting in favor of overthrowing these guidelines.
The legal battle that preceded this Supreme Court decision took four years, with the supreme court minister Edson Fachin arguing that the ban “offended the basic human dignity of gay and bisexual men.”
Neither Hungary nor Brazil has had the most sterling record when it comes to LGBTQ rights, so these two decisions come as a surprise. Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban recently introduced a bill that would make it illegal for trans people to change their legal gender. Orban did this after gaining new powers to deal with the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro is well known for his homophobia. Aside from previously declaring that he would be “incapable of loving a gay son,” Bolsonaro has also said that he would rather have his son die in an accident than be gay. He has also declared that if he ever saw two men kissing on the street he would beat them up.
LGBTQ rights groups in both Brazil and Hungary lauded the decisions.
The Háttér Society, which is the largest and oldest LGBTQ advocacy group in Hungary, released a statement that underscored that “the risk of transmission of non-penetrative sexual encounters between men is much lower than that of a heterosexual contact involving vaginal penetration.”
Meanwhile, Brazilian politician Samia Bomfim tweeted that the decision of the court was historic and that it benefits everyone who needs donations, as blood stocks are almost always insufficient.”