Barilla Pasta, one of the world’s most popular Italian food brands, won’t be featuring gay people in their ads anytime soon. In fact, according to the company’s chairman, Guido Barilla, if gays don’t like it, “they can always go eat someone else’s pasta.”
The Independent reports on a radio interview Barilla took part in on Wednesday:
Guido Barilla, whose firm has almost half the Italian pasta market and a quarter of that in the US, told Italy’s La Zanzara radio show last night: “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 added: “Everyone has the right to do what they want without disturbing those around them”. But then the pasta magnate upped the ante by attacking gay adoption. “I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose,” he said.
He did, however, say that he supports the right to same-sex marriage.
Quicker than you could get the lid off a jar of pasta sauce, boycott talk was in the air, with Aurelio Mancuso of Equality Italia reportedly saying this is an “offensive provocation” and that the community accepts “the invitation from the Barilla owner to not eat his pasta.”
Barilla’s remarks even prompted openly gay Italian MP Alessandro Zan to warn, “You can’t mess around with consumers, including gay ones.”
The controversy didn’t have to boil long before Barilla issued a statement.
Apparently, everyone is taking his actual words for what they actually mean instead of what he now claims they mean:
“With reference to statements made yesterday, I apologize if my words have generated controversy or misunderstanding, or if they have hurt the sensibilities of some people. In the interview I simply wanted to highlight the central role of the woman in the family… [I] the utmost respect for any person, without distinction of any kind… [and] the greatest respect for gays and for the freedom of expression of anyone.”
You see, we misunderstood his words as being anti-gay when really he’s just pro-women, so long as they’re cooking — like any good woman should — Barilla pasta and practically chucking it at any good looking man that walks by, well, at least according to Barilla commercials. But pasta’s sexy, right? And also, remember the whole diatribe where he specifically derided same-sex parent adoption? Respect all around, you’ll agree.
Meanwhile, Barilla US has posted to Facebook a more contrite and meaningful apology, saying:
At Barilla, we consider it our mission to treat our consumers and partners as our neighbors — with love and respect — and to deliver the very best products possible. 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 apologize. To all of our friends, family, employees, and partners that we have hurt or offended, we are deeply sorry.
However, the boycott calls rumble on and it looks like the gay community will be saying “No” to stocking Barilla in the same way that the community said “I prefer healthy arteries” to “traditional family” Chick-fil-A last year.
This has been made even easier by the ever helpful Human Rights Campaign, which has provided us with a list of equality loving pasta producers to keep your pantry packed with penne and pesto — though as always with these kinds of lists there are other issues to consider like the fact that a Target brand of pasta is on the list despite Target donating to PACs that support anti-gay Republicans, and wider issues concerning Monsanto that might be on your mind.
Barilla is of course free to hold whatever opinions he wants, just as the LGBT community is free to decide to eat elsewhere. What’s interesting in this case is how quickly the company and apparently Barilla himself acknowledged what a massive PR blunder this was and how, increasingly, it just doesn’t pay to be anti-gay.
Photo credit: Thinkstock.
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