A new campaign launched is using bold imagery to draw attention to blood donation inequality for men who have sex with men.

The image of a pride flag with a blood bag featuring the Australian flag embroidered into it is is being used to highlight discriminatory donation practices here, as well as in the US, Germany, Brazil and Canada.

Currently, men are barred from donating blood in Australia if they’ve had any same-sex sexual contact in the last 12 months.

The campaign’s organisers, New York health agency FCB Health and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, want it to bring about reform on the issue, PinkNews reported.

“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.”

The campaign includes messages like “In Australia, donating blood only hurts if you’re gay.”

Students last year lobbied the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Australian Red Cross to relax their restrictions on who can donate blood.

“We are campaigning towards a more nuanced approach, one based upon individual risk assessment or a shortening of the deferral period,” the students said at the time.

“We need to ensure the absolute safety of blood products, while not needlessly excluding those who wish to donate,” said AFAO CEO Daryl O’Donnell.

“The 12-month deferral period for gay and bisexual men is unnecessarily long, and is not consistent with expert evidence.”

The UK government last year relaxed restrictions, allowing men who have not had same-sex sexual contact for 3 months or more to donate.

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