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A Couple In An Irish Poster Against Same-Sex Marriage Say They Actually Support It

The couple posed for a stock photo last year, and the image ended up being used in the No campaign ahead of Ireland's referendum on the issue on May 22.

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On May 22, Ireland is due to become the first country in the world to hold a referendum on whether to legalize same-sex marriage. Here's a poster from one campaign group backing the No vote, featuring a stock photo of a young family.

Our #MarRef campaign posters are going up. We hope they ensure a full debate on the impact of redefining marriage.

Over 70% of voters are predicted to vote Yes to legalizing same-sex marriage, according to a March opinion poll by the Irish Times and the Ipsos MRBI market research group. But both supporters and opponents of the referendum believe the outcome could still go either way, because there is a history of support shifting dramatically during the final weeks of a referendum campaign.

However, on Thursday, the couple in the stock photo released a statement via Amnesty International saying they totally oppose the No campaign.

We were surprised and upset to see that the photo was being used as part of a campaign with which we do not agree. We completely support same-sex marriage, and we believe that same-sex couples' should of course be able to adopt, as we believe that they are equally able to provide children with much-needed love and care. To suggest otherwise is offensive to us, and to many others.

No one can convince us that life-long unions of so many loving same-sex couples here in the UK and in Ireland, are inferior to heterosexual unions, and it is important to us that our many gay friends know that we feel this way. Discrimination on the grounds of sexuality has no place in the 21st century.

They were alerted to the poster following a Facebook post by the Australian comedian Adam Hills earlier this week, who said his wife knew the couple and that their views were in no way in line with the No campaign.

The couple explained in their statement that they posed for the pictures for free last year for a photographer friend, and then agreed to let him upload them to a stock photo album. They have declined to give out their names, a spokesperson for Amnesty International in Ireland told BuzzFeed News.

Mothers and Fathers Matter, the campaign group behind the poster, said on Thursday that focusing on the models' opinions was a distraction from the bigger debate. It implied that it held this view partly because the couple weren't Irish.

After taking a bit of a hammering on TV debates,we're not surprised the #MarRef Yes side won't talk about the issues.

The couple's nationality is not clear. They said in their statement that they are U.K. residents and therefore will not be voting in the referendum. Mothers and Fathers Matter said in the statement above that the models are Australian.

Meanwhile James Larkin, an Irish graphic designer based in France, on Wednesday decided to make his own pro—marriage-equality version of the original poster using a slightly different stock image of the couple.

There I fixed that! http://t.co/0bMAK53wnt

Larkin, a designer and developer for the Irish company Blacknight Solutions, made his own mock-up of the poster because he was "shocked" that stock photos could be used for such campaigns, he told the Irish website technology.ie on Thursday. Campaign posters are a key battleground in Ireland, which bans political advertising on television and radio.

He didn't know the couple's views when he made his version of the poster, but said he was delighted to find out that they were firmly in favor of same-sex marriage.

Shyamantha Asokan is a foreign news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Shyamantha Asokan at shyamantha.asokan@buzzfeed.com.

J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211

Contact J. Lester Feder at lester.feder@buzzfeed.com.

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