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France has announced it will end its ban on blood donations by gay men, via a statement from it's health minister, calling the move the end "of a taboo and discrimination."

Marisol Touraine said beginning in the spring of 2016, no blood donors can be refused based on their sexual orientation. She spoke at a meeting in the Health Ministry on Wednesday after experts studied the issue.

The policy shift comes after a European Court of Justice ruling in April found that government bans must follow strict conditions. Many governments had imposed lifetime bans on gay men because they are more likely than other groups to have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Touraine said lifting the blood donation ban will proceed in stages, to allow the government to study whether and how the risks change. Lesbians were not covered by the French ban.

"Giving blood is an act of generosity, citizenship, that cannot be conditioned on sexual orientation," she said in a statement.