Two lesbians in China have organised an online petition calling for the gay community to be allowed to donate blood. The petition has already garnered 540 signatures, and aims to reach at least 1000.

According to the official China Daily, the petition aims to get the government to remove a law enacted in 1998 which banned the gay community from donating blood. College student Li Yu was turned away when sshe checked the “gay” box in the donor questionnaire. Liu Mei (not her real name) lied on her declaration form.

“They took my blood after I lied on the form to hide my real sexual orientation,” said the 29-year-old office clerk, who lives with her partner of four years.

Both women have signed the petition, in the hopes that the discrimination against gays will end in conservative China. Most of the gay community remain deeply closeted, and gay web sites are often blocked by the government’s Internet firewalls.

“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,” a spokeswoman for the Beijing Red Cross Blood Center said.

The newspaper report said there are about 30 million gays and lesbians in China, but it did not give numbers on how many of those have HIV/AIDS.

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