I must have been out the day that memo was circulated. Seriously, I had no idea this kind of thing was even on the books, and at first glance wondered if this was a real story:
Lesbians, banned from giving blood since 1998, are now legally allowed to donate, according to a new national policy which took effect Sunday. While applauding the move, those in the gay community believe there is still room for improvement, as gay men will still find it difficult to donate.
The Whole Blood and Component Donor Selection Requirements, released by the Ministry of Health last year, amended the provision which had forbidden homosexuals from giving blood. The previous requirements dated from 1998. It now does not mention homosexual identity, only stating that men who are sexually active with other men are still barred from donating. (Global Times)
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. How would the folks taking blood know if someone was a lesbian? Well, they wouldn’t, and one assumes that the majority of lesbians who wished to donate blood did so with no difficulties, as long as they kept quiet about their sexual identity.
However, the rule was apparently in place, which must have pissed off the gay community something fierce. Not only was the policy discriminatory, but singling out lesbians because of a perceived association with AIDS is nonsense.
As to the ban on gay men, it’s still in place. Apparently this is even a controversy in countries like the U.S., where a similar FDA policy remains in effect. If sexually active gay men are still a high-risk group, then I suppose this makes sense. But I’m glad that China was at least able, finally, to realize that HIV risk factors are not the same for men and women.