Russia Arrests 7 Gays at Blood Ban Protest
If I lived in Vladimir Putin's Russia, a place where muckraking journalists are murdered and political opponents are poisoned, while much of the media are either state-operated or heavily biased in favor of Kremlin leaders and programs, I'm not so sure I would be a gay activist.
Oh, and let's not forget the resurgent homophobia of many religious figures, all advocating denial of basic human rights and tolerance towards LGBT Russians. In such an environment, with so few minimal legal protections for dissenters and gays, I'd probably keep my head low and voice mute.
But the courageous gay community in Russia, lead by the brave Nicolas Alexeyev, isn't intimidated in this situation. Russia's gays every May attempt to stage a nonviolent gay pride festival and march in Moscow, and are denied marching and assembly permits, while police allow homophobes to brutally attack gays.
And now word emerges that late last week, several gays were arrested protesting a law barring gay men from donating blood, because of irrational fears about sexually transmitted diseases. A similar ban is in effect in the United States and no serious effort is underway to repeal it.
Russian gays deserve all the solidarity American gays can muster and extend to them as their small movement battles many problems under Putin.
From the September 14 issue of Russia Today:
Seven protesters have been detained in Moscow for holding a demonstration against a law which prohibits homosexual men from giving blood. [...]"The fact is that this part of society is considered to be at risk of sexually transmitted infections and when they passed this law they were thinking about those people who are infected and only about those people," explained Sergey Oprishenko, a doctor from the blood donor centre.
However, the doctor also says that all blood donated is checked for infections.
The leader of Moscow's Gay Pride movement, Nikolai Alekseyev, believes that the law is discriminatory. The same law also prevents prostitutes and drug addicts from giving blood.
Mr Alekseyev says its unfair to compare gay men to drug users and sex workers, pointing out that there is no law preventing gay women from giving blood. He added that the health service is desperately short of blood, yet it is "stopping people giving blood for reasons that are incomprehensible."
Ten protesters picketed outside the Russian Health Ministry. Seven were arrested and held in a nearby police department.
Mr Alekseyev questioned the legality of the arrests, saying there was no trouble at the demonstration and that the protesters "didn't interfere with anyone." [...]