Sweeping bans of blood from at-risk populations are usually pretty stupid, but this one's gotta take the cake. Did you know lesbians can't donate blood in China?
Li is a lesbian. Healthcare workers rejected her blood because she declared her sexual orientation on a mandatory health form.
Li is one of the latest lesbians to face such treatment under regulations that bar homosexuals from donating blood because of health concerns.[...]
Shi Weiwei, deputy director of the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center, told China Daily that the regulations barring homosexuals from donating blood stem from safety concerns.
"As we all know, the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including the deadly HIV/AIDS, is much higher among groups such as drug users and homosexuals, particularly gay men, who tend to have multiple sex partners," she said.
The article's actually about an online petition some lesbians are circulating to overturn the ban, but really I was much more surprised by the fact that lesbian blood is banned in the first place in China. Like most of these blood bans, it's a case of HIV hysteria run amok, but this time it's mixed in with a big misunderstanding of sexual identity politics.
The US gay blood ban isn't much better. I wouldn't be so generous as to say that China's ban is based on identity while ours is based on behavior since the questionnaire reduces the complexity of risk, safer sex, and sexual behavior to one asinine question: Are you a man who has had sex with another man since 1977? If you used protection, if by "sex" you mean low-risk activities like mutual masturbation, if you had sex once in the early 80's and have remained celibate since then, if you've been tested regularly, if you've been with only one partner... none of that matters. The definition is the functional equivalent of an identity category, ignoring reality and limiting the information used in determining eligibility to a single factor that's rather unrelated to risky behavior.
And then there's the HIV hysteria evident in the fact that they test the blood well enough now that there's so little risk of transferring HIV-positive into someone who's negative that if you can't handle your chances there, you probably shouldn't get out of bed in the morning.
I'd hope for the Chinese lesbians working on this would work with gay men as well, and I would hope that health officials who are always saying (at least in the US) that they need more blood would take this up as a cause.