Six gay rights protesters have been convicted of public order offences and fined by a Moscow court for protesting against Russia’s ban on gay men donating blood.

Activist Alexei Davydov, who organised the picket outside the Russian Health Ministry on 14th September, was fined 1,000 roubles (£20) while five other arrested participants were each fined 500 roubles.

Although all donations are screened, Russia prevents gay men from donating much needed blood as they are considered to be most at risk of sexually transmitted diseases, listing them alongside prostitutes and drug dealers.

The ministry had indicated it would change its advice on blood donations from gay men, but has not taken any action so far.

Nicolas Alexeyev, one of the organisers of the protest, said:

“We are going to appeal the court decisions in Tverskoi district court and in case it is necessary we are ready to take the cases of those activists up to the European Court of Human Rights.”

Mr Alexeyev is also the organiser of Moscow Pride and is currently contesting the ban on the 2006 march at the ECHR.

Gay men are still prevented from giving blood in the UK and in other parts of Europe, despite recent campaigns by students and young people.

Portugal began accepting donations from people regardless of their sexual orientation last year and France has lifted its ban.

Donations from gay men are under review in Sweden and banned in the USA, despite recent Red Cross campaigns.

Mr Alexeyev is currently the focus of a criminal investigation after he outed a Russian MP on live television.

The charges arise from comments he made in June, when he said politician Alexander Cheuv as a closet homosexual.