What do you see when you look at this picture?
Probably two new parents, tenderly holding a newborn baby, laden with emotion; drained from exhaustion after a sleepless night, yet buoyed by a mixture of love and gratitude.
Right? Or perhaps that’s just me. Others, fuelled by fear and ignorance, see something entirely different. They see a threat to their way of life. A challenge to their narrow-minded view of the world – a ‘love’ that is unacceptable and monstrous to them.
They see all that is wrong with the world today.
Indeed, politicians in Italy and Ireland have been using this photo as part of a campaign against gay parenthood.
Baby Milo, pictured with his two fathers, Frank Nelson and BJ Barone, was born during World Pride in Kingston, Ontario in June 2014 through a surrogate mother. The photograph quickly went viral, and the new parents received well wishes from thousands of people who were incredibly supportive of the same-sex union.
But fast forward to 2016 and it seems the couple have found a few new international critics.
Two weeks ago, Barone was informed by his cousin in Italy that the conservative Italian Fratelli d’Italia-Alleanza Nazionale party had been using the image without permission as part of a campaign against same-sex parenthood.
The couple, who are both teachers at the Toronto District School Board, were then informed last week that Mary Fitzgibbon, an Irish politician, had also used the photograph to further her opposition to surrogacy for gay parents.
The photo was tweeted by the Independent Kerry election candidate with the caption, “A motherless child is the prize – the buying of children.”
She later added, “We must reaffirm the right of a child to grow up and be loved where possible by their own mother and father.”
The photographer, Lindsay Foster, told TheJournal.ie that she was shocked to see her picture being used, especially as it expressed sentiments that she was entirely opposed to.
“It’s so sad to know that this image that shouts ‘love’ from the rooftops is being used so negatively by a political candidate,” Foster said.
It’s a real low blow by Fitzgibbon to use the photo so self-servingly for exactly the reverse purpose it was intended.
In an act of shameless cowardice and censorship, Mary’s tweets are now protected, meaning only confirmed followers have access to view them and to see her complete profile – further shutting herself off from any opinion that doesn’t line up with her short-sighted view of the world.
Oh, and you’ll be pleased to know she did not win a seat in the Irish election.
Love 1, ignorance 0.