Gay and bisexual citizens of Costa Rica who wish to donate blood will once again be eligible thanks to an executive decree signed by President Oscar Arias.
The decree, published recently in La Gaceta, the country’s official government newspaper, overturns a decree signed in September 1990 that prohibited “people of high risk from donating blood or blood parts, semen and organs.”
The announcement was well received on gay blogs on Internet Web sites, but slipped through the national media with barely a mention.
The announcement follows a lawsuit, accepted by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) in December of last year, that questioned the 17-year-old decree’s legitimacy.The court had agreed to review the decree following complaints by activist Alberto Cabezas, a representative of the Young People’s Counseling Network, who called the rule totally unethical.
Costa Rica’s Social Security System (Caja) screens all donated blood for HIV, hepatitis B and C and other diseases according to international regulations. Officials told The Tico Times that prospective donors were interviewed before they are allowed to donate blood but were not asked directly if they are gay.
According to Cabezas, however, blood tests worked just fine – and the interviews were discriminatory, and said that a written form specifically asked donors whether they are gay or bisexual (TT, Dec. 8 2006).