Apparently, for the past 14 years, the Chinese government has banned not only gay men but lesbians from giving blood—because, in the popular consciousness, "being a homosexual equals AIDS." Oh, China. What are you even talking about? But this week, apparently someone finally clued China in on what "lesbian" actually means, and the ban has been lifted. So bleed away, Chinese lesbians!!! Woohoo! (Gay guys, you're still SOL.)
Via Gay Star News:
[Lesbian activist] Xian first found out about the ban on lesbians donating blood after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China, when she wanted to give blood to help the rescue services but was told she was not allowed to because she is a 'homosexual'.
'AIDS is not caused by one's homosexual identity but improper sexual behavior,' Xian said. 'It is about our dignity and the elimination of blood donation discrimination.'
The new policy states only sexually active men who have sex with men are barred from giving blood.
Obvious stuff: Not all gay people have AIDS. Plenty of straight people have AIDS. Marginalizing and stigmatizing at-risk groups (which lesbians are not, particularly, but that's beside the point) does not help educate the general populace about HIV transmission. Also, how do you tell if someone is a lesbian? Do lesbians in China have to register with the government so they don't accidentally leave their gay blood lying around where it doesn't belong?
Non-IV-drug-using women who have sex with women are at extremely low risk for contracting HIV (according to the CDC, "To date, there are no confirmed cases of female-to-female sexual transmission of HIV in the United States database")—so China's ban on WSW donating blood was a ridiculously self-defeating display of bigotry-driven silliness. Nonetheless, this news could be a hopeful sign for China's cultural evolution:
‘Inadequate understanding of the two things is the main reason why "homosexuals" were listed as a group not allowed to donate blood,' Li said. ‘Judging from the amendment, the country's views on homosexuals and AIDS has progressed.'
And, anyway, when it comes to gay men giving blood, turns out China is just about on par with the United States ("AND CANADA" - Marco Del Rossi). Over here, men who have sex with men are indefinitely deferred from donating blood—unless the last time they boned a dude was before 1977.
So, good on China for finally dismantling that completely ludicrous nugget of bigotry—maybe someday the rest of the world will figure out how to deal with our slightly more complicated (but still undeniably bigoted) issues. (My feeling: Telling human beings who want to help save the lives of other human beings that their blood is tainted because of who they are? Probably the wrong side of history.)
Photo credit: Timothey Kosachev/ Stockfresh.