Sixth former suing Italian political party for using her photo in anti-trans ad

‘The last thing we ever wanted to do was inflict harm on members of the LGBT community’


An A-level student from Bristol is suing an Italian political party for using her photo in an anti-trans ad campaign.

Photo taken by Rose Morelli of friend, Alex Elliot in reaction to the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn

Photo taken by Rose Morelli of friend, Alex Elliot in reaction to the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn

Disgusted Rose Morelli, 17, originally took the photo of her friend Alex Elliot, as part of an art project but the young photographer was shocked to see her photo used by a right-wing Italian party in a campaign against transgender education in schools.

The ad in which Fratelli d'Italia used Morell'a photograph reads 'accept it - they're going to teach the wrong way. No to gender education in schools'

The ad in which Fratelli d’Italia used Morelli’s photograph reads ‘-Accept it – they’re going to teach the wrong way. No to gender education in schools’

Rose and Alex took the photo, inspired by the death of Leelah Alcorn, who killed herself last December. They hoped to raise awareness of the issue faced by transgender youths.

Rose told the Tab: “It struck me as hugely ironic at first, but after I got over that original sense of irony, I was horribly distressed by what had happened.

“It was never and would never be our aim to harm members of the LGBT community.”

Rose’s attention was brought to the use of her photo by the Italian gay rights activist group Arcigay on September 11th.

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At this point in time, Italian law does not prosecute those who commit crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity of victims.

The party, Fratelli d’Italia tweeted that their use of the image was, in fact, “improper” and that they “did not want to offend the memory of Leelah.”

The party said that they did however, have the right to “campaign against gender teaching in schools.”

Asked how bad the party are, Rose said: “They’re way more BNP than UKIP. The use of my photo was malicious and wrong.”

However, the party maintained that “it is right to campaign against gender teaching in school”.

Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) is currently opposing a civil partnership bill being debated by the Italian parliament. It is also known for its anti-immigration stance.

Morelli’s lawyer says that he intends to carry out civil action against Fratelli d’Italia.

Rose currently studies English, History, Politics and Philosophy at the John Cabot Academy in Bristol.  She said: “Obviously the dream is to be a photographer, but I’ll probably end up studying politics somewhere like LSE.

“If I’m successful with this legal action I’ll probably put it on my personal statement.”