Who would’ve thought Hungary would lead the way?

Hungary, a country not known for being great when it comes to LGBTQ rights, has completely dropped its ban on gay and bisexual men from donating blood. The new policy came into effect on 1 January 2020, with documents being published in mid-April, but it has only now come to light.

The change in policy has come from the Hungarian National Blood Transfusion Service, and it said that it was ‘eliminating’ the ‘discrimination’. The new policy means that gay and bisexual men, as well as other men who have sex with men, will be able to donate blood if their sexual behaviour isn’t deemed to be risky.

In a statement, the Hungarian National Blood Transfusion Service, said: “All discrimination based on the gender of the participants in the assessment of sexual relationships that are risky for transmission is eliminated.”

The news was welcomed by Hungary’s largest and oldest LGBTQ advocacy group, the Háttér Society. In a statement, they said: “The Háttér Society has been fighting for years to stop the stigmatization and complete exclusion of a group of people [men who have sex with men] from blood donation.

“A gay couple in a monogamous relationship, especially if they protect themselves against HIV by condoms or PrEP, is not more at risk than a heterosexual couple.

“The risk of transmission of non-penetrative sexual encounters between men is much lower than that of a heterosexual contact involving vaginal penetration.”

LGBTQ rights in Hungary are almost non-existent, and the rights there are under threat from the country’s Prime Minister, Victor Orban. Immediately after gaining new powers to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he introduced a bill which would make it illegal for trans people to change their legal gender.

The proposed bill says: “The gender entered into the civil registry is based on facts determined by doctors, declared by the registry.”

It adds: “Given that completely changing one’s biological gender is impossible, it is necessary to lay it down in law that it cannot be changed in the civil registry either.”

If the bill passes, all forms of legal documentation like passports and driving licences will take their information from the civil registry, which will only note ‘gender at birth’.

Related: Hungary pulls out of Eurovision Song Contest amid claims it’s “too gay”