Mexico has become the first country in North America to accept blood donations from homosexual and bisexual men. A new government ruling (NOM-253-SSA1-2012) states that the utilization of blood for therapeutic purposes will no longer be based on “criteria or requirements for donor selection [involving] the stigmatization of certain groups of people, but on the practice of risk.”

In essence, donors will be screened on their sexual history rather than their sexual preferences. Thus, gay and bisexual men who test negative for HIV and hepatitis and who exhibit safe sexual practices are now able to donate blood if they also can demonstrate that they do not inject drugs or serve as workers in the sex industry.

The previous NOM requirements explicitly excluded people who could donate blood based on sexual preferences or orientation or even social status, according to Mexico’s National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred), which also points out that despite this progress, there is still a degree of discrimination in the wording in the new NOM ruling. Specifically, subsection, Point J, excludes people on a temporary basis from donating blood “[who have] been hospitalized for more than 72 consecutive hours in penal or mental illness. The organization maintains that this subsection stigmatizes prison populations and people with mental disabilities.

The U.S. and Canada retain the policy of not accepting blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

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