Barilla chairman Guido Barilla
A leading Italian pasta company says that it would rather have gay people eat another brand of pasta than having to depict a gay family in its ads.
The Independent reported that Barilla chairman Guido Barilla stated in an Italian radio interview: “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family… if the gays don’t like it they can go and eat another brand.”
“For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company.”
He went on to say: “I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose.”
Barilla, which holds almost half of the Italian pasta market, is sold around the world, including in South Africa.
LGBT rights activist and parliamentarian Alessandro Zan said the comments were “another example of homophobia, Italian style” adding that “I’m boycotting Barilla and I invite other MPs…to do the same. I’ve already changed pasta brands. Barilla is terrible quality.”
Following growing international outrage at his statements and threats of a boycott, Barilla quickly began to change his tune.
He took to Facebook to apologise for offending “the sensibilities of some people” and insisted that he has “the utmost respect for homosexuals and freedom of expression”.
“Barilla in its advertising has always chosen to represent the family because this is the symbol of hospitality and affection for everyone,” he added.
Barilla in the US also issued an apology for the chairman’s homophobic comments. “At Barilla, we consider it our mission to treat our consumers and partners as our neighbours – with love and respect – and to deliver the very best products possible,” said the company.
“We take this responsibility seriously and consider it a core part of who we are as a family-owned company. While we can’t undo recent remarks, we can apologise. To all of our friends, family, employees, and partners that we have hurt or offended, we are deeply sorry.”