The Right to Give: Lesbians Allowed to Donate Blood in China

Posted by Kait Bolongaro & filed under Identity.

Esther Frid holds "El Atardecer de la Vida," a book she wrote about the stories of seven senior Latin American women living in Canada

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Photo courtesy of gaystarnews.com

As of July 1st, the Chinese Ministry of Health announced that lesbians are finally allowed to donate blood after a fourteen-year ban. China had been following regulations set in place in 1998 and at the time, the legislation equated being LGBTQ with HIV and AIDS.

Xian, the director of Beijing-based Tong Yu-one of China’s leading lesbian organizations is celebrating. The group began putting pressure on the Chinese government after Xian was refused at a blood donation clinic in 2008 after the Sichuan earthquake. In an interview with The Global Times, Xian reinforced that “AIDS isn’t caused by sexual identity” but unsafe sex practices, a misunderstanding that has hurt the LGBTQ movement in China.

The Whole Blood and Donor Selection Requirements changed the wording of the provision that forbade all homosexuals from donating blood. The adjusted law doesn’t make any reference to a specific sexual orientation and is a step forward for gay rights in China.

Despite this victory for the lesbian community, gay men are still barred from donating blood in China. The persistent fallacy that gay men are more likely to have HIV/AIDS than other people endures. In many countries, including Canada, gay men—or even men who have had sex one time with another man—have a lifetime ban on donating blood.

Canada has upheld its ban on gay male donors since 1983 because this group has been deemed as “high-risk” by Canadian Blood Services. Throughout the years, there has been an ongoing dispute about overturning the law. Most recently, the student association at Carleton University has refused to allow CBS to run blood clinics in its spaces because of their discriminatory policy.

There shouldn’t be a direct ban on anyone giving blood except for medical reasons. I am anemic, and evidently can’t give blood. Being gay isn’t a disease. CBS should be proactive in screening every donor for a variety of medical conditions instead of worrying about a consenting adult’s sex life.

Society needs to get over its bias towards gay men; just because someone is gay doesn’t mean they are HIV-positive. In the media, they are often portrayed as making irresponsible sexual choices, fueled by their ‘natural’ hyper sexuality or involvement with drugs, which ultimately leads to contracting HIV/AIDS as a consequence. This stereotyping needs to stop. China and Canada should set examples and let gay men give blood. After all, its in them to give.

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Kait Bolongaro loves to write about cultures and how people occupy them. She is a Masters student studying Journalism and Media Across Cultures in Denmark. She is a freelance journalist and photographer who is addicted to travelling and developing new stories. To follow her on her journeys, check out her website or follow her on twitter.

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