Britain’s first gay surrogate fathers have attracted criticism from child welfare agencies after posting pictures of their children on the popular LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) website Gaydar.
The millionaire couple Barrie Drewitt, 39, and Tony Barlow, 42, have been criticised for posting pictures of their children on a website used by many in the LGBT community as a way of networking and seeking casual sex.
The pictures appear on the couples personal profile and include a picture of the children at the couples civil ceremony partnership earlier this year.
Elsewhere on the page, under the heading “Types I like”, the couple have listed “firemen, married men, muscle men and rugby players”.
The inclusion of the pictures has been criticised by child welfare agencies who argue the childrens safety is being risked.
Chris Cloke, of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) told the Daily Telegraph: “The NSPCC has child protection concerns about putting images of children on websites as this could leave them vulnerable to being identified and being harmed.”
Michelle Elliott, founder of the charity Kidscape echoed fears that that the children are in danger of being kidnapped. She said a danger existed both from paedophiles and from criminals seeking to identify the children of wealthy parents.
Mrs Elliott said “If you want to make friends with people, then fine, do it. But the children are not old enough to say that it is OK to use their pictures.”
Mr Drewitt and Mr Barlow said in an e-mail last night that the pictures show them to be “a responsible gay family unit”.
“We are not advertising for sex, just making contact with other gay and lesbian people in the Essex area,” they said.
“Since joining Gaydar, we have chatted to several other gay families who have been using this internet tool to make contact with other families and sharing experiences. As always, our main concern is for the safety of our children.”
Gaydar’s Commercial Director David Muniz defended the couple’s actions, he said: “Gaydar.co.uk is a community site used by more than 3.5 million worldwide for networking, seeking partners, keeping it touch with friends and meeting new friends.
“Gaydar.co.uk is also used by the police in the UK to assist in the reporting of sexual bias crime. Only 22 per cent of our user profiles actually carry adult photographs.
“Any suggestion that the membership enclosed area of Gaydar.co.uk is filled with paedophiles looking for images of children and criminals seeking to identify the children of wealthy parents is simply not true. Indeed if the website in question was a heterosexual networking site and a couple of individuals had put up photos of themselves with their children this would not be a story at all.”