When we originally saw this photo of 2 dads meeting their baby boy for the first time, we thought it was beautiful.
Baby Milo was born to an unrelated surrogate in Toronto, and his parents, BJ Barone and Frankie Nelson, were present at the birth.
Cradling their newborn, one of the dads bursts into tears of joy and it’s easy to see why the picture went viral in 2014. It was supposed to be a symbol of love, but now, the image has been picked up by anti-surrogacy politicians in Ireland and Italy.
Ireland’s The Journal reported that independent election candidate Mary Fitzgibbon from Kerry has been repeatedly using the photo to condemn surrogacy on Facebook and Twitter.
“We must reaffirm the right of a child to grow up and be loved where possible by their own mother and father,” she tweeted.
The photographer responsible for the amazing images told The Journal she’s shocked to see them being used without permission and also objects to it being “misrepresented for something I don’t believe in”.
“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 added.
BJ, whose son will turn 2 in June, said he and his partner Frankie were “saddened that Mary is using the most beautiful moment in our lives as something negative for her own political gains”.
He added: “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.”
Kathy – Milo’s surrogate – also criticised the Irish politician.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the photo has also been incorporated into a poster by Fratelli d’Italia, a right-wing party in Italy.
The poster roughly translates to, “He’ll never have the right to be called mum. Children have the right to be defended.”
But BJ and Frankie are trying to turn the negative into a positive – and are encouraging others to share photos of their families on Twitter with the hashtag #WeAreFamily.
“We asked everyone to tweet her with hashtag #WeAreFamily with the photos,” he said, and the politician soon received a deluge of tweets.
“She made her Twitter account private after that,” he added. “We were interviewed in an Irish newspaper, and I said thank you to this woman because she’s giving us an opportunity to teach our son that there is intolerance, and that you can do something about it.”