A British student is taking legal action against an Italian political party after her photo was used without her permission in an anti-trans ad.
Rose Morelli, 17, took the photo of her friend Alex Elliot, and said it was “hugely distressing” to see the image used in a right-wing Italian political party.
Fratelli d’Italia used the image in a campaign against transgender education in schools.
The photo was originally taken as part of an art project.
She and Elliot chose the image, inspired by the death of US teenager Leelah Alcorn, who killed herself last December.
The Bristol student is taking legal action, and her lawyer says Alex’s image was “misrepresented”, and that there may be a question of copyright breach.
Mr Elliot, 17, said: “After the tragedy of Leelah Alcorn we wanted to get out the message, ‘that can’t happen again’, and that what happened, was in my opinion, so horribly grotesquely moving.”
Ms Morelli said: “It struck me as hugely ironic at first but after I got over that initial sense of irony, it was hugely distressing.
“The last thing we ever wanted to do was inflict harm on the members of the LGBT community.
“To find out it was being used against them in such a malicious way was horrible.”
Italian law currently does not outlaw crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity of vicrtims.
Morelli’s lawyer said he plans to bring civil action against Fratelli d’Italia.
The party tweeted that the use of the image was “improper” and that it “did not want to offend the memory of Leelah.”
The party, which is opposed to civil partnerships, maintains that it has the right to “campaign against gender teaching in school”.