A mother and father whose family has been used in a poster for the ‘No’ side of the upcoming Irish referendum on marriage equality have said how shocked they were that their image was used for the campaign, and say that they would vote Yes if they were Irish.

The organisers of the Mothers & Fathers Matters campaign bought a standard stock image of the couple kissing their baby. The pair live in the UK and had been given a free photo session with a photographer, in exchange to signing away all rights for their image to be used.

But Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said that the comedian Adam Hills, who recognised the couple, said that they were surprised at the use of their image, adding: ‘They are upset that an image of their family is being used to promote a message that they profoundly disagree with.’

He continued: ‘The family, who are expecting their second child in June, do not want to be the poster family for the ‘No’ side in this referendum.’

‘They want to ensure that when people look at those posters on lamp posts all around the country, and feel angry or upset because of how it judges them or members of their family, that the real family on the poster values them, values their relationships and ALL families.’

The family, who have not been named, say: ‘We do not agree [with the No campaign]; we completely support same-sex marriage, and we believe that same-sex couples should 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 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. If we were residents of Ireland, not the UK, we would vote Yes for marriage equality.

‘We look forward to raising our son (in the picture) and our second child (due in June) to be open-minded and unafraid of change, and to respect all colours, creeds and sexualities etc. Above all we hope that children in Ireland will be guaranteed the equality that our children enjoy, and will be able to grow up in a society which guarantees them full equality before the law, no matter who they love.’