France has decided to end a law more than 30 years old that banned gay men from donating blood, a measure originally put in place to stop the spread of diseases and and microorganisms such as HIV.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine said on 4 November discrimination against potential blood donors on the basis of sexual orientation was unacceptable because it presumed all gay men had HIV.

After a review of the measure since 2012, Touraine opted to lift the exclusion that has been in place since 1983 and was subsequently reinforced three times.

In a speech dedicated to the issue, Touraine, said: "Giving blood is a generous act that cannot be conditioned by sexual orientation. On the basis of proposals that were made to me, I have decided to put an end to the exclusion from blood donation of men that have sex with men." 

Touraine said blood donation from gay men would be allowed in France from next spring and would be monitored under strict conditions already in place.

The French healthy ministry said men who didn't have sexual relations or who had some, but with only one man in the past four months, would be allowed to donate their blood.

France has the highest rate of HIV among gay men in Europe. According to the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), between 2003 and 2008, half the people newly infected with HIV were men who had sex with other men.

In April, the country's apex court ruled that banning homosexual men from donating blood might be justified only when it is strictly necessary and there are no other alternatives for preventing the transmission of severely infectious diseases.

Under EU law, people who are at high risk of contracting severely infectious diseases because of their sexual behaviour may be permanently banned from blood donation.

In 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration had recommended easing the ban on gay blood donors on men who have abstained from involving in sexual acts with other men for a year prior to the donation. Similar policies are followed in Great Britain and Australia as well.