Gay Canadian Couple Wins Suit Against Italy's Ruling Party

Fratelli d'Italia used photo of two dads in campaign against surrogacy, same-sex parenting
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2023 5:50 PM CDT
Gay Canadian Couple Wins Suit Against Italy's Ruling Party
Fratelli d' Italia (Brothers of Italy) party leader Giorgia Meloni speaks during a rally in Rome's central Piazza del Popolo.   (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca, File)

When they welcomed their son Milo with the help of a surrogate mother in 2014, BJ Barone and Frank Nelson took off their shirts to make skin-to-skin contact with the newborn. A photo of the tender moment with the new born went viral, but the two Canadian dads were appalled when Italy's right-wing Fratelli d'Italia—"Brothers of Italy"—party used it in a 2016 campaign against surrogacy and same-sex parenting. After seven years of legal proceedings, an Italian court has ordered Fratelli d'Italia, which became the country's ruling party last year, to pay the men $10,900 each for "offensive use of their image," the BBC reports.

Both men are high school teachers in Toronto. Banone said their case was taken pro bono by Italian LGBTQ+ law firm Gay Lex. Co-founder Michele tells CP24 that the case was not an easy one, but the lawyers wanted to handle it because they felt it was wrong to use the image to "spread hate against LGBTQ+ families." In 2016, Banone said he heard about the party's use of the image from a cousin in Italy, the CBC reports. He recently told CP24 that the case went on for so long they almost forgot about it but that they were "very happy" to learn of the court's decision. The party plans to appeal.

"This is a small win for us, but it is a huge victory for the LGBTQ+ community in Italy and abroad," the couple said in a statement to the BBC. "To us, our birth photo represents everything what we stand for; family, acceptance and unconditional love." (More Italy stories.)

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