Homosexuals' blood not wanted

  • 2001-04-05
  • Jorgen Johansson
RIGA - A homosexual man filed a complaint with Latvia's Human Rights Office after being denied permission to donate blood at the National Blood Donor Center in Riga because of his sexual orientation.

Gita Nemceva, director of the National Blood Donor Center, confirmed to The Baltic Times that a homosexual person indeed had been turned away by the center a few weeks ago.

"These people are in a higher risk group for sexually transmitted diseases, and this is why they must be rejected," she said.

The Latvian National Human Rights Office is currently conducting an investigation of the incident.

Liga Bikseniece, a lawyer for the office, said so far the information received by her has been one-sided, but she has not had time to look in to the case further.

"This young man feels he has been discriminated against, but it could be more than just for his sexual orientation," Bikseniece said. "It could simply be that he was rejected because he is not medically fit to donate blood."

Every person volunteering to donate blood at the center is given a questionnaire that includes personal questions.

These include: Have you had homosexual intercourse?; Have you had sexual intercourse for money?; Have you had sexual intercourse with somebody who has been injecting illegal drugs; Have you had sexual intercourse with a person diagnosed HIV positive?

These type of questions are recommended by the Council of Europe, according to Nemceva, who also said she could not remember if the person who had been rejected was a man or a woman. She said there are often people who leave the center without donating after looking through the questionnaire.

"A person could be strong and healthy now because the incubation time for HIV could be months or years even, but there's no saying about the same person in the future," Nemceva said.

Bikseniece said this is the first time she has heard of any complaints from a homosexual person who had been banned from donating blood in Latvia. She said she will complete an investigation within the next two weeks.