The chairman of Barilla Group says his company will not feature gay families in advertisements for his products because he likes the "traditional" family. If someone disagrees, well, they can go "eat another brand of pasta."
Guido Barilla made the anti-gay comments during an interview with La Zanzara on Radio24 Wednesday. The radio host asked him why his company does not have ads with gay families.
"We have a slightly different culture," Barilla said, per a Huffington Post translation of the interview. "For us, the 'sacral family' remains one of the company’s core values. Our family is a traditional family. If gays like our pasta and our advertisings, they will eat our pasta; if they don’t like that, they will eat someone else’s pasta. You can’t always please everyone not to displease anyone. I would not do a commercial with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect toward homosexuals – who have the right to do whatever they want without disturbing others – but because I don’t agree with them, and I think we want to talk to traditional families. The women are crucial in this."
Barilla said he respects people's right to do what they want without disturbing others, but that he does not agree with gay adoption.
"I respect same-sex marriage because that concerns people who want to contract marriage, but I absolutely don’t respect adoptions in gay families, because that concerns a person who is not the people who decide," he added.
After his comments hit the press, he took to Twitter to apologize for the misstep, tweeting: "I apologize very much for having offended the sensibilities of many. I have the deepest respect for all the people without distinction."
John Aravosis of the pro-equality American Blog isn't buying Barilla's apology:
Yeah, freedom of expression. Anti-gay bigots, and conservatives generally, usually misunderstand the concept of freedom of expression to mean that they get to say any inanity with impunity. Doesn’t work that way. Barilla absolutely has the right to say that Barilla pasta is for straight people. And we have the right to tell him to vaffanapoli.
Activists are now demanding a boycott against Barilla, which is the world's largest pasta producer, according to Italy's Gazzetta del Sud. The protest became a trending topic on Twitter shortly after Barilla's remarks aired, with the hashtag #boicottabarilla.
"Here we have another example of homophobia, Italian style," left-wing Italian politician and LGBT activist Alessandro Zan said, according to the report. "I'm boycotting Barilla and I invite other MPs...to do the same. I've already changed pasta brands. Barilla is terrible quality."
Rich Ferraro, Vice President of Communications for GLAAD, told The Huffington Post in an emailed statement:
"These insulting anti-gay comments will not only lead to LGBT people skipping Barilla in favor of more inclusive brands like Bertolli, but their family members, friends and co-workers as well. Homophobia is bad for business - plain and simple. Mr. Barilla's opinion is ill informed, and he will soon learn that the new traditional family accepts gay and lesbian families and does not support companies that promote discrimination."
Other global companies -- like Microsoft, PepsiCo, Starbucks and Disney -- have come out in support of gay rights and marriage equality. Back in March, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told anti-gay shareholders of Starbucks stock that they can sell their stock. Schultz's comments followed a boycott from the National Organization for Marriage after the coffee brand supported same-sex marriage legislation.
A media representative for Barilla could not be immediately reached for comment.
UPDATE: 9/26 1:30 p.m. -- Barilla issued an apology on the company's Facebook page, writing:
Regarding my comments at the radio program La Zanzara, I [apologize] if my words generated misunderstandings or controversy or if they hurt some people's feelings. In the interview I just wanted to underline the centrality of the woman's role in the family. To be clear, I just want to specify that I do have great respect of every person, without any kind of distinction. I do respect gay people and everybody's freedom of expression. I also said I do respect gay marriage. Barilla in its advertising has always chosen to represent the family because this is the symbol of hospitality and affection for everyone.