Gay rights advocates are calling for a boycott of the largest pasta company in the world, Barilla Group, after the company's president said in an interview Wednesday that he wouldn't use gay families in the company's advertising. And as if that weren't already enough to spark outrage, Guido Barilla went on to say, "If the gays do not agree, they can always eat pasta from another manufacturer. Everyone is free to do whatever they want provided it does not annoy others."
According to a translation of the interview by Huffington Post, Barilla said the following in the interview with La Zanzara on Radio24:
"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. 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."
The company tweeted an apology shortly after, which read, "I apologize very much for having offended the sensibilities of many. I have the deepest respect for all the people without distinction."
And published another on the company's Facebook page:
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.
But none of the clarifications have stopped an outpouring of anger over the statements. And a quick glance at "#boycottbarilla" shows a steady stream of consumers who are taking the president up on his suggestion that they buy their pasta elsewhere. In fact, the Facebook apology may have made things worse as people are even more offended at the narrow definition of not only "family," but also of women's role within it.
It's worth nothing though that in Italy, gay marriage is not legal and the country still doesn't recognize same-sex civil unions.
Meanwhile, Buitoni, another Italian food group owned by Nestle, posted a photo on their company Facebook page with the caption, "At Casa Buitoni, there is room for everyone."