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Russian MP proposes gay blood ban, free gay-to-straight conversion therapy

Monday, August 26, 2013
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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — A Russian lawmaker is proposing a bill that would ban blood and organ donations from gay men, while offering them free gay-to-straight conversion therapy.

State Duma MP Mikhail Degtyarev, who is also a Moscow mayoral candidate, said a ban on blood and organ donations is necessary and would not be considered discriminatory, and claimed that 65 percent of all HIV-positive persons are homosexual.

Mikhail Degtyarev

Parliament is also considering an initiative “on voluntary and anonymous consultations with psychologists, psychotherapists and sexologists at state expense.”

“Many want to return to a normal life, to become heterosexual like 95 to 99 percent of our citizens,” Degtyaryov said, who is vice chairman of Committee for Science and Scientific technologies.

Russia’s ban on blood donations from gay men was repealed by the Ministry of Health in 2008.

The bill is the latest Russian legislation to target gays, coming less than two months after President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning the promotion among minors of “non-traditional” sexual relations.

The law has been dubbed “anti-gay” by critics and has led to calls by various rights groups to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014.

Yury Gavrikov, a prominent Russian LGBT activist and organizer of St. Petersburg Pride, criticized the bill and said Degtyarev is spreading misinformation about HIV.

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“Degtyarev’s claims in the press that HIV-infected homosexual men make up 65 percent 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,” said Gavrikov.

“[Degtyarev] is counting on ignorant laymen who do not know what HIV is, and he is unable to explain the difference between HIV and AIDS.” he said.

Gavrikov cited a recent report from the Russian Federal AIDS Center, that stated for the 2012, 60 percent of new HIV cases were a result of injecting drug users, slightly less than 40 percent were the result of heterosexual transmission, and less than 2 percent resulted from gay or bisexual contact from men who have sex with men.

Russian Minister of Health’s press secretary Oleg Salagay, said that experts would study Degtyarev’s 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,” said Salagay.

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