A new campaign is calling for the 12 month ban on gay men donating blood in Australia.
New York healthcare agency FCB Health has partnered with the Gay Mens Health Crisis (GMHC) organisation to launch the striking campaign pushing for less discriminatory regulations for gay men in several countries around blood donation.
The campaign, which specifically targets the United States, Australia, Canada, Brazil and Germany, shows each country’s flag cut into the shape of a blood donation bag and sewn onto the rainbow flag.
“Many countries, including the U.S., Australia, Canada, Brazil and Germany, endorse the fight for equality in marriage, schools, the workplace and housing, yet discriminatory criteria for blood donation remain.”
“This altering of the traditional flag design, compounded with the use of exposed thread and stitching, powerfully brings to life the juxtaposition between LGBTQ Pride and discrimination.”
“Ultimately, these flags aim to highlight cultural hypocrisy as a call to action, and unite these countries in an effort to advance blood equality on a larger scale.”
In Australia, men who have sex with men can only donate blood once abstaining from all sexual contact for more than 12 months.
“Scientific modelling shows that overall, even men in a declared exclusive gay relationship have, on average, a 50 times greater risk of HIV infection, compared to heterosexual Australians with a new sexual partner,” the Australian Red Cross explains on their website.
“The Blood Service is not discriminating against anyone based on their sexuality; rather the policies are based on assessment of risk.
“Deferrals are in place for a number of potential donors who may be more likely to be exposed to infection or present other risks to the recipient.”
Each of the flags in the new campaign has a powerful message directed towards the country it addresses, for example, “In Australia donating blood only hurts if you’re gay.”
“The U.S. has tested positive for discrimination,” another reads, and Canada’s says the country “accepts gay love, but not gay blood.”
GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie said, “We want to restore the fundamental right to donate blood, and make it a more equitable process across the board.
“Current donation policies stem from fear and outdated stigmas surrounding sexual orientation, when they should instead be based solely on testing and scientific risk assessments.”
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations CEO Daryl O’Donnell has previously described Australia’s 12-month deferral period for gay and bisexual men as “unnecessarily long, and not consistent with expert evidence.”
“Blood donation policy must be based on the best contemporary evidence,” he said in 2017.
“We need to ensure the absolute safety of blood products, while not needlessly excluding those who wish to donate.”