Fury as far-right uses trans suicide victim’s pic

UPDATED: A British photographer told The Local she is suing the far-right party Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) after it used a picture she took featuring a 17-year-old transgender girl, who committed suicide last December, in a campaign against gender education in schools in the northern province of Trentino.

Fury as far-right uses trans suicide victim's pic
The image featuring Leelah Alcorn, a transgender girl who committed suicide last December, was used by the far-right Fratelli d'Italia. Photo: Rose Morelli

Rose Morelli, a Bristol-based photographer of Italian origin, took the photo in honour of Leelah Alcorn, a teenager from Ohio, in the United States, whose death attracted international attention after she said in a suicide note, posted on Tumblr, that she took her own life because her parents could not accept who she was and forced her to undertake “conversion therapy”.

The photo, featuring Alcorn with tear-stained eyes and smudged lipstick, was intended to shake public conscience by telling the story of the pain she went through, while campaigning against conversion therapy and fighting homophobia.

The image helped to gather over 300,000 signatures to a petition calling for the therapy to be banned in the US.

But the photo was used by Fratelli d’Italia in a leaflet campaign against the teaching of what the party calls “gender theory”, such as gender stereotypes and discrimination, which it claims “undermines male and female gender by saying that men and women are equal in everything, regardless of their biological sex”.

In a campaign that got underway on Friday, the aim was for the message, which also called for the “defence of the family”, to reach parents across 70 schools in the province.

The party defended its use of the photo, saying it was made “freely available online”.

Morelli told The Local that she was preparing to take legal action, arguing that the party used her work without permission and in the opposite way to how it was intended.

“The use of the photo, while slightly ironic, is hugely distressing,” she added.

“It's unfortunate that the photo had to be used by an institution that I would never, ever plan on endorsing in any manner, and I can only hope that any damage to the LGBT community inflicted by use of my photo can be rectified in the upcoming lawsuit.”

In a statement on its website, the Trento unit of the gay rights organization, Arcigay, said:

“Maybe Fratelli d’Italia did not know [in what sense the image was used], or maybe it did. But who cares, the important thing is it railed against gender, told another lie, convinced the gullible and scared another mother.”


For members


What does the US’s new risk classification for Italy mean for American travellers?

The US State Department has changed its advice on travel to Italy as well as dozens of other countries with improving Covid infection rates. What does this mean for Americans who want to come to Italy?

What does the US's new risk classification for Italy mean for American travellers?
Photo: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

The US has downgraded Italy from its “do not travel” list (level 4) to “reconsider travel” (level 3). 

The decision by the US State Department and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention means that Ital yis no longer in the highest risk classification for travel. 

However, according to the State Department’s advice for level 3 “reconsider travel”, “US nationals should avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security”. 

“Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to Italy. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid nonessential travel to Italy,” reads the CDC website.

However, Italy’s entry rules for Americans remain unchanged since May 16th.

As the US remains on Italy’s travel ‘D list’, entry is allowed for any reason but all arrivals from the US are subject to a mandatory 10-day quarantine period unless on a special Covid-tested flight.

People arriving on other flights, including those who must travel for essential reasons, must provide negative test results as well as facing the quarantine requirement on arrival, under rules which are currently set to stay in force until at least July 30th. (However, it’s possible that they may be dropped earlier – or extended beyond that date.)


There is currently no exemption to the Italian travel restrictions for people who have been vaccinated.

However, Italy’s government said on Wednesday that its long-awaited travel ‘green pass’ or health certificate would be ready for use in the coming days.

The pass will be available to anyone who has either been vaccinated, has tested negative for coronavirus within the past 48 hours, or has recently contracted and recovered from Covid-19.

Authorities did not clarify whether the pass would be made available to non-EU citizens immediately. Find more details here.

Other countries that are no longer classified as “do not travel” by the US are France, Spain, Japan, Greece, Switzerland, Canada and Mexico. You can find out other countries’ classifications here

The CDC said it had also updated the criteria it uses to determine these risk levels “to better differentiate countries with severe outbreak situations from countries with sustained, but controlled, Covid-19 spread”.

The US State Department uses the CDC’s recommendations to set its own travel advice but also considers other factors such as Covid restrictions and terrorism in other countries.

All returning US citizens require a negative Covid-19 test result before boarding their plane back, the CDC added.

Stay up to date with Italy’s travel rules by following The Local’s travel section and checking the Italian Health Ministry’s website (in English).