Lesbians in China petition to donate blood

From the Associated Press:

BEIJING — Lesbians in China have organized an online petition calling for gay people to be allowed to donate blood, state media reported Tuesday.

The petition, asking the government to remove a law enacted in 1998 banning the gay community from donating blood, has drawn 540 signatures from lesbians and aims to reach 1,000, the official China Daily reported.

A vast majority of China’s gay and lesbian population face discrimination and stigmatization, and most remain deeply closeted in a highly conservative society. Gay Web sites are often blocked by the government’s Internet firewalls.

China bars potential blood donors from giving blood once they have ticked the gay and lesbian box on the application form, according to a spokeswoman for the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center, who refused to be named citing policy.

“It’s a practical law because the gay community has much higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases. We must take our precautions wisely,” she said. “Even if they lie on the form and say they are straight, everyone’s blood will go through a final screening test for diseases.”

The newspaper report said there are about 30 million gays and lesbians in China, but it did not give numbers on how many of those have HIV/AIDS.

The government and UNAIDS estimate the number of people living with HIV in China is about 700,000, and of those, about 85,000 have AIDS.

The HIV virus that causes AIDS gained a foothold in China largely because of unsanitary blood plasma-buying schemes and tainted transfusions in hospitals.

The government remains sensitive about the disease, regularly cracking down on activists and patients who seek more support and rights.


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