The world's largest pasta brand, Barilla, is trying to do damage control after its chairman infuriated many by expressing his sentiments about gays.
On an Italian radio show on Wednesday,
Guido Barilla was asked why the company does not feature same-sex couples in its ads. His answer: "We have a slightly different culture; for us, the 'sacral family' remains one of the
company’s core values. Our family is a traditional family...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 that he respects gay marriage, but has "no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns
a person who is not able to choose.”
Gay rights activists and supporters in Italy started calls for Barilla boycotts (#boycottbarilla and #boicottabarilla
), and consumers in the U.S. and elsewhere quickly picked up on the calls. (Mia Farrow was
among the many who have weighed in.)
Barilla released a statement that included an apology from the chairman: “I apologise if my words generated misunderstandings or arguments,
or if they offended the sensibilities of some people. In the interview I simply wished to underline the central role the woman plays within the family.”
Another apology from him was subsequently posted on the company's Facebook page, reported The Huffington Post
(which had it translated from Italian): "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."