Israel Cancels Law Barring Ethiopian-Jews, Homosexual, and Bisexual Men from Donating Blood

Israeli authorities have canceled a law which barred Ethiopian-Jews from donating blood. The change in policy was announced on Thursday by Israeli health officials, Haaretz reported.

The controversial ban came to the surface in 1996 after reports revealed that Israeli health official destroyed blood samples from the Ethiopian-Jewish community.

The ban, which led to protests by the Ethiopian community, is reportedly part of a health law prohibiting blood donations from people from regions with high HIV rates. Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa (without South Africa), and the Caribbean are among the regions affected by the law.

According to the new rule, Ethiopian-Jews, homosexual and bisexual men would be allowed to donate blood in Israel. Officials say homosexual and bisexual men would be allowed to donate blood if they have not had sex for a year, Times of Israel reported.

In the past, the Ethiopian-Israeli community has accused the government of racism, Aljazeera reported. Critics say the Israeli health ministry’s refusal to allow Ethiopian-Jews donate blood over HIV fears is an excuse because tests can be conducted on the blood samples.

Israel is home more than 200,000 Ethiopian-Jews who arrived in the country in two mass migration airlifts in 1984 and 1991 respectively. Ethiopian-Jews have faced several difficulties in blending into Israeli society. Many are unemployed and there have been several claims of discrimination.

[Photo by Vanessa/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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