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China caught up with the rest of the world this week by eliminating a 14-year ban on blood donations by lesbians. Most gay men, on the other hand, are still not welcome to donate. "The ban still applies to men who are sexually active with other men, but celibate homosexuals are permitted to give blood," reports CNN's Molly Gray. Allowing lesbians to donate blood puts China in line with the Red Cross's policy but the country still lags behind the U.K.'s policy which, in November 2011, began allowing gay men who have abstained from sex with men for 12 months to donate blood. China's ban, actually sounds a lot like the protocol in the U.S., where gay men who have had sex with men any time since 1977 are banned from giving blood.

"The original ban, enacted in 1998, barred homosexuals of both genders from donating blood out of a fear of spreading HIV and AIDS," writes Gray, while a "well known sexologist" explained to The Global Times that the ban on both lesbians and gay men was because "the nation easily believed that being a homosexual equates to AIDS."

Obviously equating identity and a disease is a misguided belief on a grand scale, but when it comes to lesbians, it looks even more foolish. According to a CDC report from 2006, there were no confirmed cases of female-to-female sexual transmission of HIV in the United States Database. "A study of more than 1 million female blood donors found no HIV-infected women whose only risk factor was sex with women," reads the report.  

"It is also about our dignity and the elimination of blood donation discrimination," activist Xu Bin, who has been fighting against the ban said in a CNN report. "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." 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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