Guido Barilla, whose company has almost half the Italian pasta market and a quarter of that in the U.S. said on an Italian radio broadcast Wednesday: “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don’t like it they can go an eat another brand.”
“For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company,” he said, according to a report in The Independent.
Barilla went further, attacking gay parents and adoption.
“I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose,” he said.
Gay rights group Equality Italia said Barilla’s comments were an “offensive provocation” and called for a boycott of the company’s pasta, sauces and snacks.
“We accept his invitation to not eat his pasta,” said Aurelio Mancuso, president of Equality Italia.
By midday, the hashtag #boicottabarilla (boycottbarilla) was trending on Twitter, incited in part to outrage voiced by some Italian politicians.“Here we have another example of homophobia, Italian style,” said Alessandro Zan, an member of Italy’s Parliament. “I’m boycotting Barilla and I invite other MPs…to do the same. I’ve already changed pasta brands. Barilla is terrible quality.”
Facing a potential global boycott of his products, Barilla went into damage control Thursday afternoon to reinforce its “respect” for gays in a statement attributed to its chairman:
“I’m sorry if my comments on La Zanzara have created misunderstanding or polemic, or if I’ve offended anyone. In the interview I only wanted to underline the central role of the woman in the family,” he said.