The Australian Red Cross has apologized after posting homophobic comments on Facebook claiming ‘all gays engage in risky behavior’.
The humanitarian health organization told News Ltd the remarks about blood donation, which were made in reply to a user’s accusation of homophobia, were made in ‘error’ by a busy employee.
In the post, which has now been deleted, the unnamed member of staff also claimed everyone with tattoos gets ‘infected by dirty needles’ and all people from the UK have mad cow disease.
National media manager Kathy Bowlen says the word ‘not’ was meant to be used before each statement.
She said: ‘Our policies are not at all homophobic or discriminatory but we know some people will think that no matter what we say. I’m disappointed it happened but there’s not much we can do.’
An official apology has now been issued on their Facebook page, saying lesbians can donate blood and gay and bisexual men can give provided they haven’t had sex with a same-sex partner for 12 months.
The comments sparked outrage among users, with many taking to the Australian Red Cross’s Facebook page to vent their anger.
Scott Hunter branded the organization ‘homophobic bigots’, while gay rights group LGBT Equality World Wide posted: ‘Your ignorance, prejudice and discriminatory ideals are back in the stone age and need to be re-evaluated.
‘I cannot believe an organization like yours would take the opportunity to insult homosexual men, those from England and those with tattoos and piercings.’
While gay man Simeon Lion-Hyde Yialeloglou said he was ‘shocked’ to be turned away from donating blood because he had had sex with another man within the last year.
He said: ‘I always practice safe sex with my monogamous partner. I have been and am regularly tested for all STIs and deemed totally clean and healthy.
‘What’s the matter with my blood? Why can’t I help save lives…because I happen to have sex with men?’
The Australian Red Cross replied by saying the reason for their restrictions on men who have sex with men is because of the ‘window period’ between when someone has contracted an infection such as HIV.