Russian parliament considers ban on blood and organ donation by gay people and offers reparative therapy
By Brody Levesque | SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia -- A prominent Russian LGBTQ equality rights activist and the organizer of St. Petersburg Pride criticised a bill to ban on blood and organ donation by gay people currently being considered in the Russian Federal Duma (Parliament).
According to LGBTQ rights campaigner Yury Gavrikov, the measure introduced by Federal MP Mikhail Degtyarev, who is also a Moscow mayoral candidate, has spread misinformation about the amendment.
"Degtyarev's claims in the press that HIV-infected homosexual men make up 65% of total cases is completely wrong and his knowledge of not understanding the figures reflects the fact that he's an amateur in these matters and populist.
He [Degtyarev]is counting on an ignorant layman who not only does not know what HIV is, yet he will not be able to explain the difference between HIV and AIDS." Gavrikov said Monday.
Gavrikov cited a recent report from the Russian Federal AIDS Center, which published information that outlined that for the year 2012, among the new HIV cases nearly 60% were injecting drug users, a little less than 40% - infection through heterosexual transmission and less than 2% - men who have sex with men who are gay, and bisexual. Moreover that last year two-thirds of women becoming infected through heterosexual relations, three-quarters of men infected through injection." The activist added that the ban on blood donation for gay couples was in the Soviet Union and Russia until 2008.
Degtyarev's remarks came during a press conference last week in which the lawmaker also said that Russian parliamentarians were working on an added measure within the amendment which would be a government run initiative to offer gays voluntary anonymous consultations with psychologists, psychotherapists and sexologists that would help them to “return to normal life and become heterosexuals, as are 95 to 99 percent of our citizens.”
“We will suggest amendments to the law on donors that reintroduce homosexuality to the list of contraindications for blood donations in Health Ministry instructions,” said Degtyarev adding, "Russia could soon reintroduce the ban on blood and organ donations for gay men, but offer them free treatment facilitating ‘conversion’ to heterosexuals."
He added that he personally was not against LGBTQ pride events – as long as they did not violate the newly signed law banning "promotion of non-traditional sex relations to minors."
“The law presumes that they should not hold gay pride events when children can see them. But it is very possible to hold them at night, with flashlights and without amplifiers,” Degtyarev told reporters.
Russian Minister of Health's press secretary Oleg Salagay, told reporters that the experts would study the suggestion if it arrives in due order. Salagay also noted that, "when deciding on limitations lawmakers should consider both the human rights issues and the possible health risks."
Salagay said that although Russia's ban on blood donation for gays had been lifted several years ago, he pointed out that and in many countries, including the USA, the ban on blood and organ donation for homosexuals is still in force, despite being a topic of debate.
Gavrikov reacted saying,
"In the donor centers in Russia, as in the European Union, the blood passes a full range of analyzes, including HIV and STIs. U.S. and Europe in the late 80's have already experienced a wave of myths about the gay cancer, as they called HIV.
The West managed to reverse the situation, When prevention and education took up science and medicine, not religious fanatics and political populists like Degtyareva.
We're still in the tail dragging stories. HIV, like the flu, knows no social boundaries - all at risk. Statistics in the world and Russia is confirmed . Such a law will throw Russia in the fight against the HIV pandemic has 10-15 years, as was the case with a number of countries as they tried to deal with the conservative restrictions."