Mr Nelson and Mr Barone with their son Milo with Pride message. Credit: Instagram

Gay Canadian couple sue Meloni’s party over image


A gay Canadian couple are suing Italy PM Giorgia Meloni’s party, Brothers of Italy (FdI), over an image of them with their new-born son which the party used in an anti-surrogacy campaign.

A gay couple sued Italy’s ruling party (FdI) for using a photograph of them cradling their newborn baby without permission. The image was used in a campaign condemning surrogacy and same-sex parenting.

The image was used in 2016, when FdI was a small opposition party. The party has now been ordered to pay damages to Frankie Nelson and BJ Barone.

How was the image used?

The photograph showed both the fathers bare-chested and emotional as they held their newborn son in 2014.

In 2016, the image was used for an anti-surrogacy campaign. The caption read, “He will never be able to say ‘Mummy’. These are the rights of a child that must be defended.”

The 2014 anti-surrogacy and same-sex campaign by the Brothers of Italy (FdI)

The couple’s case was taken on by Gay Lex, an Italian LGBT law firm. A court in Rome has now found against FdI, ordering the party to pay the Canadians €10,000 each. FdI intends to appeal the decision.

The Rome tribunal described the use of the image in the advert as “offensive”.

“This is a small win for us, but it is a huge victory for the LGBTQ+ community in Italy and abroad. To us, our birth photo represents everything that we stand for; family, acceptance and unconditional love,” the couple told the BBC.

“This victory against the Fratelli and the prime minister allows us to reclaim our photo, and show the world that family is about love.”

Michele Giarratano, one of the lawyers who took on the case, told Canadian news outlet CP24: “The Italian government, in this moment, is promoting many laws against the LGBTQ+ community. It’s important that everyone understands that family is only about love.”

Political parties should “think twice in future before using a photo to spread hate”, he said.

Anti-surrogacy abroad law in motion

The Italian government is currently pushing through a new law which moves to ban overseas surrogacy. As it stands, surrogacy is illegal on Italian soil, and has been for almost 20 years.

The new law does not differentiate between gay and straight couples. Rather, the law is against what Meloni and her supporters call “procreative tourism”. They describe surrogacy as an “execrable example of the commercialisation of the female body”.

If the anti-surrogacy law comes to pass, anyone breaking it could face up to two years in prison or a €1million fine.

In addition, Italy is also saying it is not legal for both same-sex parents of a child to be named as such on the birth certificate. However, some city mayors are still fighting against this interpretation of the law and issuing birth certificates with both names.

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