Magen David Adom announced Wednesday that it will begin a pilot program in April that will allow gay men to donate blood even if they have had sex in the past year. “Today is an important historic step on the path to equality for the gay community,” MK Meirav Ben-Ari, who is a strong supporter of the program, said.

LGBT march in Israel

LGBT march in Israel Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

On Wednesday, Magen David Adom announced that it will be accepting blood donations from LGBT community members starting in April even if they had sexual intercourse in the past year. The blood will be taken as part of a new pilot program.

MDA arrived at the decision after discussing the matter with experts in Israel and around the world. In June, the Israeli Healthy Ministry determined that the blood of LGBT community members would only be accepted if they had not had sex in over a year.

As part of MDA’s pilot program, which will be conducted over the next two years, the blood collected from gay men will be separated from the rest of the blood donations and then kept in a cold environment. After four months, the blood will be tested again and if no diseases are found, the donations will be sent to hospitals across the country.

MK Meirav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) led the initiative with MDA Director-General Eli Bin and welcomed the decision. “For years, it was a frustrating situation that the LGBT community members could not donate blood, and when they did donate, they were forced to deny their sexual orientation,” she said. “Today is an important historic step on the path to equality for the gay community.”

Israeli Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association chairwoman Chen Arieli also welcomed the decision: “The continued refusal to accept blood donations from gay men was an outrageous insult that is coming to an end.”