Lesbians can now give blood after the Chinese government lifted a 14-year ban earlier this week, allowing them to legally donate.
Homosexual men who are sexually active, however, remain barred from donating blood.
The changed law came into effect after authorities amended the Whole Blood and Component Donor Selection Requirements which in 1998 forbade homosexuals from giving blood.
The amended law doesn’t mention “homosexual identity, only stating that men who are sexually active with other men are still barred from donating,” state media reported; this means that homosexual men who are celibate will be allowed to donate as well.
According to the state-run Global Times, the director of Common Language, an NGO dedicated to supporting lesbians and bisexuals, nicknamed Xian, said that she applauded the amendment and is planning to coordinate members of the NGO to donate blood.
Xian did not know lesbians were barred from giving blood until after the earthquake in Sichuan Province in 2008, when she was told she could not donate blood.
"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," said Xian.
“USA Today reported in December, 2011 that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibit men who have had sex with other men at any time since 1977 from donating blood. In 2010, the FDA reviewed the policy but upheld it, while in the UK, since November, 2011, gay men can donate blood, but only if they have abstained from sex for 12 months, according to a report in the Guardian on June 14,” the Global Times report said.
The first case of AIDS in China occurred in 1985 when an Argentine visitor, also an AIDs patient, died during a trip to the country.
Sexologist Li Yinhe said that as China learnt about AIDS and homosexuality at roughly the same time, in the 1980s, "the nation easily believed that being a homosexual equates to AIDS."
"Inadequate understanding of the two things is the main reason why 'homosexuals' was listed as a group not allowed to donate blood, as a way to prevent the spread of AIDS," said Li.