The Russian Ministry of Health and Social Development has surprised many by ending its ban on gay blood donation.

LGBT activist have for years campaigned to allow gay people to donate blood. The move is a rare victory for equality in a country in which gay Pride events are routinely banned.

The decision will affect previously “high risk groups” such as homosexuals, drug addicts and prostitutes.

Activists have argued that modern blood screening technology means that gay people should not be stigmatised, and that individuals’ risky activity and not membership of “groups” should be considered when it comes to donating blood.

In September last year Russian gay activists, including Nikolai Alekseev, the organiser of Moscow Pride, attempted unsuccessfully – as a protest action – to donate blood.

Speaking from São Paulo, where he is to receive an award at the city’s gay Pride event this weekend, Alekseev told UKGayNews that, “I am very happy that the Ministry took this decision to repeal a discriminatory ban on blood donations by homosexual people.”

Russia will become an example in this respect for other countries, including western democracies, where such restrictions are still in force,” he added.

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