Guido Barilla, chairman of the fourth-generation Barilla Group, the world’s leading pasta maker, has angered equal-rights proponents with remarks that the brand would not feature a gay family in its advertising.
reports that in speaking with Italian radio Wednesday evening, Barilla said:
"I would not do it but not out of a lack of respect for homosexuals, who have the right to do what they want without bothering others … [but] I don't see things like they do and I think the family that we speak to is a classic family."
According to a Huffington Post translation of the interview
, Barilla added:
“For us, the 'sacral family' remains one of the company’s core values. Our family is a traditional family.”
When later asked how he thought the stance would affect the company’s gay consumer-base, Barilla answered, “If they like our pasta and our message, they will eat it; if they don't like it and they don't like what we say, they will … eat another."
It looks as though Barilla’s detractors will, indeed, opt for other brands.
reports that chairman’s comments quickly sparked a boycott of the brand and its products, with campaigners urging customers to shun all 20 brands owned by the Parma-based company, which include Voiello pasta and Filiz and Misko products.
According to Reuters
, one such campaigner is Aurelio Mancuso, the head of gay rights group Equality Italia, who called Barilla's comments an "offensive provocation" and said he accepts Barilla’s “invitation” not eat that brand’s pasta.
By Thursday afternoon, there was a new statement attributed to the chairman, apparently intended to quell the backlash:
“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.”