Sweden Lifts Gay Blood Ban – Almost

Giving Blood begins with a tiny scratch...We’ve covered before on this blog the issue of how the NHS has a ban on men who have ever had sex with men giving blood. Well, on the same subject it looks as though Sweden has just lifted a similar restriction.

Sweden will allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood so long as they have not had sex with a man in the last 12 months.

In a statement released today, which is World AIDS Day, the National Board of Health and Welfare confirmed the change.

The ban will be lifted on March 1st, 2010.

The country will impose a one-year blood donation on all people having “risky” sex, which includes gay sex.

Monica Axelsson, a spokeswoman for the health board, told AFP that donors would have to fill in a questionnaire about their sex lives and all blood would be tested before being used.

So essentially, those men who are celibate but have had sex in the past will no longer have an automatic ban. I wonder whether the NHS might follow suit soon. On top of that, does anybody know the research that this Swedish change was based on?

11 Comments on “Sweden Lifts Gay Blood Ban – Almost

  1. Hi Peter,

    thanks for this – maybe I should put pinknews.co.uk into my favourites as I don’t look at it often enough & wouldn’t have seen this had you not highlighted it.

    I may be proved wrong but I doubt the NHS will lift the equivalent ban in the UK… but quote that back to me when it happens :)

    Have no idea what research the decision was based on – also not sure how to find out!

    Also, had you seen this?


    in friendship, Blair

    • Hmmmm….

      I’m afraid I don’t think it’s a great article because it completely shies away from any environmental causation. Most of the stuff on hormones etc is complete supposition because we don’t have any research to back up what he suggests.

      As for this para, well it’s a complete non sequiter:

      “The whole nature-nurture debate is entirely pointless,” he says. “Sexual orientation is not a choice because humans come in two types: one with a vagina, the other with a penis, so sexual orientation is entirely biological.


      • Yes, Peter, I agree: that is a complete non sequitur. I find myself wondering whether that is what Rahman actually said, or whether it has been reduced to nonsense by a garbled report.

  2. Yes, I always suspect that these articles are more interested in “proving” someone’s beliefs than examining known facts in the cold light of day..

    For instance, the fact that there is only about 50% correlation for homosexuality in identical twins PROVES that sexual orientation is NOT purely genetically determined.. FULL STOP! But this still gets wheeled out as a “possibility”.

    Furthermore a significant number of lesbians say that they have chosen to be gay, and many men discover an attraction to other men after being in male-female relationships for years. Yet it is constantly argued that sexual orientation is in no way determined by choice!! (Just because some gay people don’t remember feeling attracted to the opposite sex, or making a choice to be gay, doesn’t mean that noone did, or that there were no choices, or external influences, that affected how many people’s sexuality developed!)

    • To be fair, the 50% correlation might allow for some form of uterine influence, but one cannot leap from the possibility of such an influence to asserting that it is so (and that conversely it *cannot* be psychological / behavioural).

    • “…the fact that there is only about 50% correlation for homosexuality in identical twins PROVES that sexual orientation is NOT purely genetically determined.. FULL STOP!”

      No it doesn’t. This statement is incorrect. It was generally accepted until recently that identical twins had absolutely identical genes. We now know that they don’t. A study recently conducted by scientists in America, the Netherlands and Sweden (at the University of Alabama, at Leiden University Medical Center and VU University, and at Uppsala University and Karolinska Institutet) shows this. See:


      So although it certainly hasn’t been demonstrated that sexual orientation is purely genetically determined, the lack of concordance in identical twins DOESN’T prove that it ISN’T. FULL STOP!

      • In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the 50% concordance rate demonstrates that either genetics or some in-utero factor *IS* one of the key factors in some people’s homosexuality.

  3. Oo er. Sorry, I hadn’t heard about the CNV variations!!

    Apparently, according to the font of all online knowledge, Wikipedia: “Monozygotic twins are almost genetically identical (unless there has been a mutation during development) and they are almost always the same sex. … Monozygotic twins have nearly identical DNA, but differing environmental influences throughout their lives affect which genes are switched on or off. This is called epigenetic modification. A study of 80 pairs of human twins ranging in age from three to 74 showed that the youngest twins have relatively few epigenetic differences. The number of epigenetic differences between MZ twins increases with age. Fifty-year-old twins had over three times the epigenetic difference of three-year-old twins. Twins who had spent their lives apart (such as those adopted by two different sets of parents at birth) had the greatest difference. However, certain characteristics become more alike as twins age, such as IQ and personality. This phenomenon illustrates the influence of genetics in many aspects of human characteristics and behaviour.”

    To be fair, if you look back, I wasn’t suggesting that genetics has no influence.. just that sexuality is not PURELY genetically predetermined. The 50% correlation dioes weaken the case for purely genetic disposition, but is never mentioned inpolite company… Even with the caveate the DNA may mutate slightly differently in twins as they develop and be switched on and off slightly differently as they age, we can still say that (almost) genetically individuals do not develop (almost) identical sexualities.

    However, I do agree that the 50% correlation in indentical twins (and 20% correlation in siblings) probably does indicate that genetics predisposes people’s sexuality.. but it is almost certainly NOT the only factor, as discussed above and also because of the other issues I mentioned previously (re choosing to be, or discovering one is, gay later in life). The 10% incidence of people experiencing some same sex romantic attraction during adoloscence, but only about 2-3% eventually settling on a (mostly) fixed homosexual orientation also points to other factors, as does the higher incidence of males being gay if they have an older sister may also indicate environmental factors.. and the differences in the proportion of people who grow up to be gay in otherwise genetically similar rural and urban populations (a study in Denmark indicated this a few years ago).

  4. Hello all,

    in case anyone is still interested, part two can be found at:


    I agree that part one was rather patchy with what looked like poor sub-editing / proof-reading in places. Part two looks better to me but see what you think… Note the line, “As Dr Rahman shows, there remains much to learn about how sexual orientation is determined” near the end.

    David (are you the David or the David H who posts on Fulcrum by the way? – don’t answer if you’d rather not…): you said above, “I do agree that the 50% correlation in indentical twins (and 20% correlation in siblings) probably does indicate that genetics predisposes people’s sexuality.. but it is almost certainly NOT the only factor”. I’m sure you’re right, but am wondering what – if anything – you’re trying to imply by pointing to environmental factors?

    in friendship, Blair

  5. Is there a ban on African Christians? (see http://www.martinrothonline.com/MRCC11.htm) Having worked in HIV care and seen the way many African Christians pathologised white gay men on wards (irony/denial or what!! sitting up in bed with overly large Bibles and overly large condemnation of gay men!) it would be interesting to note if there is a similar ruling on Africans – particularly African Christians (those who often have a strong emphasis on Biblical orthodoxy when it comes to homosexuality).

    Just a thought, but something to mull over – particularly with African clergy making such a fuss over human sexuality…



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