Russian lawmaker proposes banning gays from donating blood
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian lawmaker has said parliament should ban blood donations from homosexuals, news agencies reported on Monday, upsetting activists already angry at a nationwide ban on gay 'propaganda'.
"We will suggest an amendment to the law on (blood) donations on the order of the Health Ministry that returns homosexuals to the list of contra-indicated donors," Interfax quoted parliamentarian and Moscow mayoral candidate Mikhail Dyegtyaryov as saying.
A law passed in June that prohibits spreading "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" has sparked criticism from Western governments and led to calls for a boycott of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, next February.
The measure, popular with many Russians and with the powerful Orthodox Church, highlighted the more socially conservative course that President Vladimir Putin has charted in his third term. Putin draws strong support from conservative rural parts of Russia, while protests against his 13-year rule have mostly been confined to big cities.
Dyegtyaryov, who represents the nationalist LDPR party in parliament's lower house, the Duma, said the proposed move would help staunch Russia's HIV-AIDS epidemic. Many experts, however, say Russia's high drug addiction rates pose a greater HIV threat.
Gay activists say that the propaganda law has increased discrimination against them and emboldened vigilante-style attacks.
Gay rights advocate Yelena Kostyuchenko, who said she regularly gives blood, wrote on her Twitter blog on Monday that she had been asked to donate that very day.
"Next time I'll say - I'm sorry, I'm a lesbian, I don't deserve to give blood for your family members. Keep looking," she wrote.