News (World)

Instagram finally uncensors photo of gay dads with newborn

Two bearded men nuzzle their infant child in this promotional image
The previously censored image, posted by Men Having Babies Photo: Sara Callow Photography, reprinted with permission from Men Having Babies

Instagram has finally uncensored an image showing two real-life husbands affectionately nuzzling their newborn infant. The picture-sharing platform had censored the image as “sensitive” and “graphic” content, even though it allows many similar images of lesbian and heterosexual couples affectionately nuzzling their own children.

On Thursday, Instagram parent company Meta removed a censored filter laid over the photo. “We apologize as this post was labeled mistakenly and has since been corrected,” a spokesperson from Meta told Metro Weekly.

Men Having Babies, a non-profit organization that assists gay men who want to be fathers, posted the image to promote their upcoming April 26 conference in Berlin. Soon after, Instagram censored the photo with a black message screen that made users click to see it.

The image was of a real-life male couple, Sam and David (who go by @scousedads on Instagram), and their child Jude. It showed nothing graphic, violent, or upsetting.

Ron Poole-Dayan, Executive Director of Men Having Babies, told LGBTQ Nation that he wasn’t sure whether an automated system or human reporting caused the censorship. But he suspected the fact that the image promoted a European event may have contributed.

Anti-gay sentiment in other East European countries has led to stigma against same-sex parents continent-wide. Some European countries have criminalized commercial surrogacy for same-sex couples and others, due to feminists and right-wingers who argue the practice is exploitative of poor women. The Italian government has begun stripping same-sex parents of their parental rights as well.

Leanna Garfield, the social media safety program manager at GLAAD responded to the incident, calling Instagram’s content moderation system “seriously flawed.”

“Even after the faulty overlay was flagged multiple times to Meta, it took more than seven days for the platform to remove it,” Garfield said. “Graphic content overlays are a valuable tool to mitigate extreme content — That shouldn’t include something as innocuous as a photo of two fathers with their newborn.”

Social media platform moderation systems disproportionately suppress LGBTQ+ content, including via removal, demonetization, and shadowbanning, Garfield added, noting that GLAAD will release its updated annual Social Media Safety Index report on the issue later this year.

“People don’t see us as natural parents,” Poole-Dayan said. “Some cannot easily forget that [gay men are] also sexual beings…. Part of our human dignity and equality is in reproductive justice. We are worthy of being good parents, and that it is part of our human nature, and that doesn’t change when you’re gay.” 

Don't forget to share:

Good News is your section for queer joy! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the most positive and fun stories from the site delivered to your inbox every weekend. Send us your suggestions for uplifiting and inspiring stories.

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

This election year will be taxing for LGBTQ+ folks. Here’s how we can still choose joy.

Previous article

Out councilman resigns after being caught urinating on popular gay bar, allegedly assaulting staff

Next article