As a follow-up to Russia's internationally condemned anti-gay law, a senior lawmaker wants to bring back the country's ban on gay people giving blood. Mikhail Dyegtyaryov says the move would help stem the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic, reports Reuters, though experts say the vast majority of the country's infections come from either dirty needles or heterosexual sex. Russia lifted its ban on gay men giving blood several years ago, but similar bans are still in place in many other countries including the US, Russia Today notes. (US lawmakers have recently sought to reverse the "outdated" policy.)
Dyegtyaryov told a press conference that in addition to the blood ban, Russia's parliament is working on a plan to give homosexuals free "conversion therapy" that would allow them to "return to normal life and become heterosexuals." He added that he was not opposed to gay pride rallies, as long as they were held "at night, with flashlights and without amplifiers." A leading Russian gay rights advocate says she regularly donates blood and was asked for a donation the same day Dyegtyaryov made his comments. "Next time I'll say—I'm sorry, I'm a lesbian, I don't deserve to give blood for your family members," she tweeted. "Keep looking."