Lesbians in China can now legally give blood – although the ban on sexually active gay and bisexual men remains.

The Ministry of Health announced last week that the ban on lesbians donating blood would be lifted immediately.

State media suggested that celibate gay men would also be able to donate blood, as the wording of the law does not mention homosexual identity. Instead, it says men who have sex with men cannot donate.

The blanket ban came into force in 1998, after fears of HIV transmission. Despite the statistically low risk of lesbians testing HIV-positive, all gay people were barred from donating.

In 2009, lesbians began a petition campaign to change the law.