In the first of its kind in China a Chinese man is suing a Beijing Red Cross centre after his blood donation was turned down because he is gay, state media said Thursday.
The man, an editor identified by his pen name Wang Zizheng, said he was gay in a health questionnaire filled out when he went to donate blood in early June, and was then told he could not be a donor, the China Daily said.
According to regulations issued by China's health ministry and published by the national blood transfusion association, "homosexuals and those with multiple sex partners" cannot be donors.
"For thousands of homosexuals in China, someone has to stand out," he was quoted as saying, adding he was seeking a public apology from the blood centre and wanted to become a donor.
Huang Yizhi, Wang's lawyer, said that the court's acceptance of the case would be a major victory "because this is the first one in China".
Neither Wang nor Huang were immediately available for comment.
Homosexuality was considered a mental disorder in China until 2001, and gays still face crushing social and family pressure, despite gradual steps towards greater acceptance.
Shanghai, for example, was discretely allowed to host the nation's first gay pride festival in June last year, and a government-backed gay bar opened in December in Dali, a tourist town in the southwestern province of Yunnan.
However in January, police cancelled the nation's first Mr Gay China beauty pageant in Beijing after it had attracted weeks of coverage both in foreign and domestic media.
Experts estimate there are about 30 million gays and lesbians in China -- 2.3 percent of the population -- but observers say the number could be higher as many still refuse to come out.
In December last year, the government warned that homosexual transmission of HIV/AIDS was gaining pace.
But Li Yinhe, a pioneering sexologist in China, has criticised the policy of refusing homosexuals' blood donations, saying in her blog that the rate of HIV/AIDS contagion is much higher between heterosexuals than homosexuals.