Russians protest their country’s gay blood ban
Activists in Russia have written to the country’s Ministry of Health to ask why previous assurances that regulations banning gay men from donating are to be removed have not resulted in action.
In June last year officials said that they intended to reverse a 2001 order that put homosexuals on the same level as prostitutes and drug addicts.
Although all donations are screened, Russia prevents gay men from donating blood as they are considered to be most at risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
The ministry had indicated it would change its advice on blood donations from gay men, and that the relevant amendments are ready and being prepared for implementation.
However, the ban is still in place and activists Nikolai Alexeyev and Nikolai Baev are planning legal action.
In their third letter to the Ministry of Health and Social Development, they remind officials that homosexual relations between consenting adults in private have not been a criminal offence in Russia since 1993.
They also give reference to the Article 23 of Russian Constitution which guarantees right to private life as well as Article 19 of the Constitution which bans discrimination on various grounds.
According to the Federal Law on blood donations implemented in 1993 “donation of blood is a voluntary act.”
Article 1 stresses that any person over the age of 18 can donate blood after medical examination.
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“We will fight against the current ban on blood donations for homosexual people until we win,” Mr Alexeyev said this morning.
“There are no reasons to keep the current ban in force. Moreover, many specialists in the field agree with us that this ban can not be implemented in practice.
“In fact it is used to stigmatise sexual minorities, to show their asocial nature. They appear in the document together with drug addicts and prostitutes.”
Gay men are still prevented from giving blood in the UK and in other parts of Europe, despite recent campaigns.
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.