Barilla facing boycott in gay-family furore

'I'll never use homosexual families in ads' says president

26 September, 18:30

    (By Christopher Livesay) (ANSAmed) - Rome, September 26 - The president of Barilla, the world's biggest pasta maker, sparked a heated public debate and a boycott of the family business Thursday when he said he would never make advertisements that portrayed gay families. "I would never make a spot with a homosexual family. Not out of a lack of respect but because I don't see it like they do. (My idea of) family is a classic family where the woman has a fundamental role," said Guido Barilla on Italian radio program La Zanzara. "We have a different concept with regard to the gay family.

    For us, the concept of the sacred family remains a fundamental value of the company".

    Show hosts responded that gay people also eat pasta. "That's fine if they like our pasta, and our communication, they can eat it. Otherwise they can eat another pasta. You can't always please everyone," said Barilla, one of three brothers who control the privately held company, which boasted 3.9 billion euros in revenue in 2010 and has over 14,000 employees in Italy and abroad. "I respect everyone who does what they want to do without bothering others. I'm also in favor of gay marriage. But not adoption in gay families. "As a father of several children, I believe it's very hard to raise kids in a same-sex couple".

    Within hours, Italian activists and politicians launched a boycott of Barilla products, which has 20 brands of pasta, sauce, and various jarred foods. "We accept his invitation to not eat his pasta," said Aurelio Mancuso, president of gay-rights group Equality Italia.

    Later in the day, the hashtags #Barilla and boicottabarilla (boycottbarilla) were trending at the top of Twitter in Italy, thanks in part to outrage voiced by some Italian politicians, and Wikipedia already had an entry for "Guido Barilla's gay controversy".

    "Here we have another example of homophobia, Italian style," said Alessandro Zan, an MP with the left-wing SEL party.

    "I'm boycotting Barilla and I invite other MPs...to do the same. I've already changed pasta brands. Barilla is terrible quality". Barilla also had his supporters. "Solidarity with Guido Barilla (amid these) attacks on civil liberties," said Maria Rita Munizzi, president of the Italian Parents Movement (Moige). "We appreciate the choice to showcase his products with the natural family".

    Guido Barilla, part of the pasta dynasty's fourth generation since Pietro Barilla founded the company in 1877, eventually apologized. "I apologize if my words generated misunderstandings or arguments, or if they offended the sensibilities of some people," said a statement. "In the interview I simply wished to underline the central role the woman plays within the family".

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