MEMBERS of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s LGBTI employee network have created a video in support of the It Gets Better campaign, affirming the organisation’s support amidst a reignited community debate over the ban on gay men giving blood.

In the video, Blood Service employees discuss their coming out process and the homophobia many of them experienced growing up. The emotional stories come from people across the organisation, with each explaining the ways their lives had become better.

The Blood Service has again been thrust into the LGBTI community spotlight over the past week, with renewed calls for the deferral period for gay men donating blood to be reduced or moved. Men who have had sex with men within the past year are currently unable to donate blood in Australia.

The Blood Service supported a submission to the Therapeutic Goods Administration last year to have the deferral period reduced to six months, but the submission was rejected without explanation.

Blood Service chief executive Jennifer Williams praised the work of the organisation’s LGBTI employee network, and directly addressed the LGBTI community’s criticisms of the rules governing blood donation in Australia.

“The Blood Service sometimes attracts criticism for blood donation deferrals regarding sexual activity, but this has nothing to do with our view of LGBTI people,” Williams said.

“Ultimately, it is our aim is to ensure that everyone is treated with respect at the Blood Service because it is part of our values and that everyone understands and celebrates diversity in whatever form it presents itself.”

Last week, the Blood Service was recognised by LGBTI employer organisation Pride in Diversity. They were ranked number 20 in Australia’s top employers for LGBTI people, and received the top award for a not-for-profit or charity.

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