Chinese lesbians are signing onto an online petition asking for the right to donate blood, which is denied them by a society worried about AIDS, state media said Tuesday.
At least 540 lesbians nationwide have added their signature to the petition, and organisers hope to reach the number of 1,000 before handing it over to the government, the China Daily reported.
"We just hope the authorities respect our kind intention to donate blood and remove the discrimination," said one of the organisers, who was not identified by her real name.
China has an estimated 30 million homosexuals, including 10 million lesbians, the paper said, citing the ministry of health.
Although the legal system no longer discriminates against them, they remain stigmatised in large parts of society, and homosexuality only disappeared from an official list of mental diseases early this decade.
The paper quoted Shi Weiwei, deputy director of the Beijing Red Cross Blood Centre, as saying homosexuals were barred from donating blood simply out of safety concerns.
"As we all know, the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases 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," she said.
China is particularly worried about the risk of tainted blood after a large number of poor farmers contracted HIV in the 1990s from selling blood under highly unhygienic conditions.