According to CNN, lesbians are now allowed to give blood in China, after the country’s Ministry of Health lifted a 14-year ban that prevented them from donating. However men who are sexually active with other men are still prevented from donating blood, but homosexual men who are celibate are permitted.
The ban went into effect in 1998 and prevented both gay men and women from donating blood out of fear of spreading HIV and AIDS.
China first encountered AIDS in the 1980s, when an Argentinean tourist died from the disease while visiting the country. Chinese officials proclaimed AIDS a “foreigner’s disease.”
Lesbian rights activist Xu Bin, also known as Xian, applauded the country for finally lifting the ban. Bin told the Global Times, “It is also about our dignity and the elimination of blood donation discrimination.”
Bin also said that she was initially unaware of the ban that barred lesbians from giving blood in China, and didn’t find out until she tried to give blood after the earthquake in Sichuan Province in 2008. Bin said, “It’s scientific that the policy doesn’t mention homosexual identity but only fences off some who have certain sex behaviors, because AIDS is not caused by one’s homosexual identity but improper sexual behavior.”
The United States has a similar ban on homosexuals giving blood. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned men who have had sex with other men at any time since 1977 from donating blood. The FDA reviewed the policy in 2010 but decided to uphold.
Sexologist Li Yinhe told the Global Times that China forbade lesbians and gay men from donating blood because the country learned about homosexuality and AIDS around the same time and, “the nation easily believed that being a homosexual equates to AIDS.”