“Game of Thrones” is coming under fire ahead of the show’s highly-anticipated season 8 premiere on April 14.
On Thursday, HBO and the American Red Cross announced the launch of the “Bleed For The Throne” blood drive and immersive experience at the South by Southwest Conference & Festivals in Austin, Texas from March 7-9.
According to the official site, donors of the blood drive at SXSW and at various speciality drives and schools in the United States from March 7-12 will receive a limited edition “Game Of Thrones” t-shirt; and donors before March 17 will be eligible to win one of five trips to the season 8 world premiere in New York City.
Shortly following the release of the contest, however, some fans criticized the initiative for discriminating against gay and bisexual men, who are required to wait more than one year since their last sexual contact before donating blood, according to Red Cross regulations.
In response, a spokesperson for HBO tells ET Canada, “The ‘Bleed for the Throne’ campaign is and has always been open to everyone. Knowing that FDA regulations may prohibit blood donation by some, we have created multiple ways for fans to interact with the campaign, including entry to the activation at SXSW and the season 8 premiere sweepstakes.”
The statement adds, “While the SXSW activation filled up quickly, a standby line will be available while the activation is open. Those unable to donate blood in national blood drives can still enter the sweepstakes by contacting the Red Cross Donor Support Center with a request to be entered, along with their name, mailing address and a valid email. Inclusivity is a key HBO value, and we have long been supporters of the LGBTQ+ community.”