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Italy: Photog Sues Antigay Politicians for Highjacking His Pro-Equality Photo

Italy: Photog Sues Antigay Politicians for Highjacking His Pro-Equality Photo


Photographer Oliviero Toscani was appalled when a conservative, homophobic political party in Italy tweeted an image he shot in support of diverse families for a very different campaign. 

An Italian photographer has threatened to sue a conservative political party for misusing a photo -- he originally shot it for a newspaper article supporting adoption rights for same-sex couples, but the right-wing group used it in a campaign opposing such rights.

The photographer, famous for shooting a series of Benetton ads, contends the political party did not secure his permission to use the image, but more importantly, objects to how the party used it, according to Italian English-language news site The Local.

"The photo was used in the opposite way [it was intended]," Oliviero Toscani told Italian news agency Ansa. "[Originally,] there were editorial photos to explain the various possibilities of a family for a French newspaper." Instead, Toscani said, Italy's conservative Fratelli d'Italia party "used the photos in an ignorant way, like they are."

Toscani's photo depicts a gay couple and a lesbian couple in a unified embrace, holding an infant, as all pictured look into the camera's lens. The image was initially published as part of an editorial layout in a French newspaper article supporting adoption rights for same-sex couples.

The opposition party, whose name translates to the Brothers of Italy, shared Toscani's photo on its Twitter account, adding text stating the party's opposition to adoption by same-sex couples. "A baby is not a whim," reads the text. "No to gay adoption."

Italian law requires prospective adoptive parents to be married or living together for several years, thereby barring same-sex couples from adopting (since they cannot marry in Italy) as well as single adults. However, a recent ruling by an Italian judge allowed a lesbian to adopt her partner's biological child, a first for the country, and the Brothers' antigay ad was released just days later.

The party has expressed regrets for the unauthorized use of the photo. "We apologize for what happened because we respect the author's right," a spokesman for the party, which is currently a minority in Parliament, told Rai News.

Unmoved by the apology, Toscani has vowed to take the Brothers of Italy to court for copyright infringement.

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