Language of document : ECLI:EU:C:2015:288

Case C‑528/13

Geoffrey Léger

v

Ministre des Cases sociales, de la Santé and des Droits des femmes
and

Établissement français du sang

(Request for a preliminary ruling
from the tribunal administratif de Strasbourg)

(Reference for a preliminary ruling — Public health — Directive 2004/33/EC — Technical requirements relating to blood and blood components — Blood donation — Eligibility criteria for blood donors — Criteria for permanent or temporary deferral — Persons whose sexual behaviour puts them at a high risk of acquiring severe infectious diseases that can be transmitted by blood — Man who has had sexual relations with another man — Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Articles 21(1) and 52(1) — Sexual orientation — Discrimination — Justification — Proportionality)

Summary — Judgment of the Court (Fourth Chamber), 29 April 2015

1.        EU law — Interpretation — Texts in several languages — Uniform interpretation — Differences between the various language versions — Taking account of the general scheme and purpose of the legislation

(European Parliament and Council Directive 2002/98, Recital 24, Commission Directive 2004/33, Annex III, points 2.1 and 2.2.2)

2.        EU law — Interpretation — Methods — Observance of fundamental rights — Equal treatment — Prohibition on discrimination based on sexual orientation

(Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Arts 20 and 21(1))

3.        Public health — Blood products — Directive 2004/33 — Criteria for permanent deferral for donors of allogeneic donations — National legislation providing for a permanent contraindication to blood donation for men who have had sexual relations with other men — Discrimination based on sexual orientation — Justification — Protection of public health — Conditions — Observance of the principle of proportionality — Verification by the national court

(Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Arts 21(1) and 52(1); Commission Directive 2004/33, Annexes II, Part B(2) and III, point 2.1)

1.        See the text of the decision.

(see paras 31-38)

2.        The requirements flowing from the protection of those fundamental rights are binding on Member States when they implement EU rules, so that they are bound to apply the rules in accordance with those requirements. In that context, the Member States must make sure they do not rely on an interpretation of wording of secondary legislation which would be in conflict with those fundamental rights.

In that connection, Article 21(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union provides that any discrimination based, in particular, on sexual orientation must be prohibited. That provision is a particular expression of the principle of equal treatment, which is a general principle of EU law enshrined in Article 20 of the Charter.

(see paras 41, 48)

3.        Point 2.1 of Annex III to Commission Directive 2004/33 implementing Directive 2002/98 as regards certain technical requirements for blood and blood components must be interpreted as meaning that the criterion for permanent deferral from blood donation in that provision relating to sexual behaviour covers the situation in which a Member State, having regard to the prevailing situation there, provides for a permanent contraindication to blood donation for men who have had sexual relations with other men where it is established, on the basis of current medical, scientific and epidemiological knowledge and data, that such sexual behaviour puts those persons at a high risk of acquiring severe infectious diseases and that, with due regard to the principle of proportionality, there are no effective techniques for detecting those infectious diseases or, in the absence of such techniques, any less onerous methods than such a counter indication for ensuring a high level of health protection of the recipients. It is for the referring court to determine whether, in the Member State concerned, those conditions are met.

In that connection, it is for the referring court to determine in particular whether the questionnaire and individual interview with a medical professional, provided for in Annex II B(2) to Directive 2004/33, are able to identify more precisely the type of behaviour presenting a risk for the health of recipients, in order to impose a less onerous contraindication than a permanent contraindication for the entire group of men who have had sexual relations with a man.

(see paras 66, 69, operative part)