Two gay dads in Toronto, Canada are fighting against the use of their photo in anti-gay surrogacy campaigns by encouraging others to share images of love on social media.
The image, which captures the emotional moment BJ Barone and Frank Nelson met their son Milo for the first time, quickly went viral when it was published by photographer Lindsay Foster two years ago.
However, the pair were stunned to see the image being used without permission in an anti-gay campaign by Irish politician Mary Fitzgibbon, who posted the image on social media without permission, alongside negative comments about surrogacy.
‘A motherless child is the prize – the buying of children,’ she tweeted.
She shared the image in another post, with the caption, ‘We must reaffirm the right of a child to grow up & be loved where possible by their own mother and father.’
This “politician” in Ireland is using our photo to spread bigotry and hate. She is against surrogacy, and same sex gay couples creating families. Obviously we DO NOT support this cause. She is using our photo that is all about love to be used for hate. PLEASE message her or tweet her to tell her to stop. Any support we get is greatly appreciated. Help fight for LGBT families in Ireland! Thank you!! #lovewins #wearefamily
A photo posted by @bjbarone on
Rather than respond with hatred, the pair are encouraging other families to share their photos of their families of all shapes and sizes with the hashtag #WeAreFamily.
The couple, who are now taking legal action, said to The Journal: ‘I think the photo speaks for itself: the expression on Frank’s face says nothing but love.
‘It is love that makes a family, not a mother or a father. If everyone had as much love as Milo does in his life, the world would be a much happier place.
‘Everyone should have the right to marry and have children. Love is love.’
The image has also been spotted in an anti-surrogacy campaign in Italy by national-conservative party Fratelli d’Italia.
Baron is currently reaching out to the Italian media, encouraging them to spread the word, posting ‘Please could you help? They are using our photo illegally,’ on Twitter earlier this week.
— BJ Barone (@bjbarone) February 29, 2016
Foster, who as the photographer owns the copyright, said she objected to the image being ‘misrepresented’.
‘It’s so sad to know that this image that shouts ‘love’ from the rooftops is being used so negatively by a political candidate,’ she said.
The couple are continuing to share their messages of love across their social media channels, including an adorable video of their son, who is now two years old.
In a clearly sarcastic post, Barone commented: ‘You are right. He is very unhappy,’ as his son laughed and played on a snowy family walk.
— BJ Barone (@bjbarone) March 4, 2016