MSM Blood Ban
Since September 2001, male homosexuals became excluded from the right to give their blood following the release of an instruction from the Ministry of Health, which included MSM as part of the HIV high-risk groups, along with prostitutes and drug addicts.
In April 2006, GayRussia’s activists initiated a campaign to remove the discrimination arguing that the instruction was discriminatory and contradictory to the law. Activists started to lobby the Ministry of Health and submitted a complaint to the General Prosecution, which confirmed in July 2006 that the activists are right and that the Ministry should amend its instruction to take away MSM from its list.
The Ministry of Health ignored the edict, and once again, GayRussia reminded the Ministry of Health that its instruction had to be amended ASAP as confirmed by the General Prosecution. On September 14, the anniversary of the introduction of this discriminatory instruction, activists of GayRussia organized a protest in front of the Ministry of Health. The action took place despite being banned, and several participants were arrested. Simultaneously, a second group attempted to donate their blood at the Moscow transfusion centre, where they were denied (watch the video).
Finally, in May 2008, on the eve of the third Moscow Pride, the Ministry of Health amended its instruction.
This successful campaign is symbolic in two aspects: First, it establishes that gay people have their place in the society and can help others; and second, it represents the first discrimination removed against gays since the decriminalization of homosexuality in May 1993. Fifteen years have passed since that time.
This is the only campaign to be successful so far in Russia that effectively changed the legislation and gave an additional right to gays. This campaign, managed in a judicial way together with public actions, represents the typical example of GayRussia’s strategy since its foundation. It was successful with no cost and budget associated with it. It further establishes proof positive that money is not what will change the rights of LGBT people in Russia, but work, passion, and tireless efforts.
TODAY IN HISTORY
In 1993, President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree which repealed the law forbidding male homosexuality. Starting from 2006, Russian gay rights activists started to celebrate this date by attempting to organize an annual gay rights march known as Moscow Gay Pride. The first edition was banned and marred with violence. It was reffered as the first Russian Stonewall.
This day was founded in 2004 by French Academic Louis-Georges Tin to mark the anniversary of the declassification of homosexuality from the list of disease by the World Health Organization. Russian LGBT have been celebrating this day every year since 2005 under the leadership of Project GayRussia which was itself founded on May 17, 2005. GayRussia is Russia's coordinator of IDAHO.
Following Moscow in May 2009, Minsk was the second capital to host the Slavic Gay Pride. The March was banned and marred with violence but it did not prevent two dozens of Pride organizers from Moscow, Minsk and St. Petersburg to march over 300 meters waiving a 10meters long rainbow flag. 11 participants including some of the organizers were brutally arrested by police forces.
2009 marked the launch of GayRussia's campaign for the opening of same-sex union of gays and lesbians in Russia. While the Constitutional Court already expressd the opinion that marriage is between a man and a woman, activists believe that the lack of partnership or marriage for gay couples is a strong point to impose legislative changes via a decision of the European Court of Human Rights.
The five-judge panel of the Grand Chamber of the Court rejected the appeal of the Russian Federation in the Moscow Pride Ban case. The decision given on October 21 is final. By repeatedly banning Gay Pride Marches as well as other LGBT themed public action, Russia breached the European Convention on Human Rights.