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LA STAMPA

Rome Hospital Accused Of Turning Away Lesbian Blood Donor

After the third such case in recent years, where health officials cite "risks" of gays giving blood, Italian gay rights activists say it's time to explicitly guarantee the right for people of all sexual orientations to donate bl

A gay rights rally in Milan (David Saltuari)
A gay rights rally in Milan (David Saltuari)

*NEWSBITES

ROME – Donating blood is one more civic act that Italian gay rights activists now say must be explicitly protected by law. The latest controversy comes after a woman in Rome says she was not allowed to give blood at one of the city's largest hospitals because she is a lesbian.

The 39-year-old accounting firm employee, referred to as "Angela," says she was told by a hospital official at Policlinico Umberto I that she is "considered at risk" because of her personal life. The woman says she has had a monogamous relationship with another woman for more than the 120 days required to exclude the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

"There is no law that bans homosexuals from donating blood," said Gabriella Girelli, director of the blood transfusion center at Umberto I. "In general, ‘at risk" people cannot do it. It's up to the examining doctor to determine the risk on the base of the information provided."

Roberto Stocco, spokesman for the Rome chapter of the Arcigay association, says denying someone the possibility to donate blood is a violation of Italian law. He added that he was skeptical about Girelli's claim that she cannot refer to the specifics of the case to protect patient privacy.

"It is an exercise in stupidity," says Ivan Scalfarotto, an official for the opposition Democratic Party. "Since AIDS is transmitted via blood and sperm, lesbians are considered not at risk."

This is not the first time this issue has come to the fore in Italy, with similar denials in the northern city of Pordenone in 2007, and Milan in 2010. Another opposition politician and activist, Paolo Concia, says she will take the issue to Parliament.

"We want to put it down by law that homosexuality is not an element that should exclude someone from donating blood," she said. "Some institutes use "safety" to hide their anti-gay prejudices, forgetting the real risk of 9 million straight Italian men who frequent prostitutes."

Read more from La Stampa in Italian

photo - David Saltuari

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Geopolitics

End-Of-Regime Vibe? Supreme Leader Keeps Referring To Shah's Final Days

In recent weeks, Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, has made repeated references to the end of Iran's last regime in 1979. Is may be a sign the country is indeed approaching another kind of revolution.

photo of Supreme Leader ali Khamenei

Iran's Supreme Leader al Khamenei on Jan. 9

Office of Supreme Leader via ZUMA
Kayhan-London

-Analysis-

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered his forces to clamp down with renewed vigor on the remains of the mass protests that erupted across Iran in mid-September. Initially a reaction to police brutality, these turned into the biggest anti-state protests of the Islamic Republic's 40-year history.

And they continue, in spite of thousands of arrests, more than 500 deaths on the streets and in custody, and four hangings. There was also outrage in Britain and across the world after the execution of British-Iranian Alireza Akbari, who had been sentenced to death.

All of this has angered the leader. In a speech in Tehran last week, Khamenei called the protests "treason" aimed at destroying Iran's "security, production of knowledge, economic output and tourism."

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