France will allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood without restrictions starting in March.

For the first time in nearly 40 years, men who have sex with men will be allowed to donate blood without restrictions starting on March 16.

“We are ending an inequity that was no longer justified,” Oliver Véra, France's health minister, said in a tweet.

According to The Hill, the government will screen out risky behaviors with a questionnaire.

France instituted a complete ban on gay men donating blood at the start of the AIDS crisis. In 2016, the government eased the rules, allowing men who have sex with men to donate blood after a year of sexual abstinence. Three years later, that period was reduced to four months.

LGBTQ activists called the ban a “form of discrimination.”

“Imposing a period of four months of abstinence to homosexual people wishing to donate blood was totally absurd and has always been experienced as a form of discrimination, all the more so when we know that donations are running out,” Matthieu Gatipon-Bachette told Le Parisien.

“Obviously there must be a health safety framework to be respected, but this must not be based on the sexual orientation of the donor,” he added.

A deferral period of 3 months remains in the United States.

The FDA adopted a lifetime ban on gay men donating blood in 1983 in response to the AIDS crisis. In 2015, the agency relaxed the ban to allow for donations from gay men who have abstained from sexual contact for 12 months. In 2020, the FDA shortened the deferral period to 3 months to address the need for blood during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.