The chairman of Parma, Italy-based Barilla Groupa company with Illinois tiessaid Sept. 25 that his company would not feature gay couples in their advertising, and that if gays didn't like it, they could "eat someone else's pasta."
Many activists have taken the chairman at his wordthey've launched a boycott against Barilla.
Gruppo Barilla Chairman Guido Barilla was interviewed on the Italian radio program La Zanzara and was asked why no gay couples were featured in the company's advertising.
"We have a slightly different culture," replied Barilla in the interview, which was translated by Huffington Post. "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 homosexualswho have the right to do whatever they want without disturbing othersbut because I don't agree with them, and I think we want to talk to traditional families. The women are crucial in this.
"I respect same-sex marriage because that concerns people who want to contract marriage, but I absolutely don't respect adoptions in gay families, because that concerns a person who is not the people who decide," Barilla added.
Barilla later attempted to issue an apology on Twitter, writing, "I apologize very much for having offended the sensibilities of many. I have the deepest respect for all the people without distinction."
But Italian LGBT activists had already rallied behind the idea of boycotting Barilla. Equality Italia President Aurelio Mancuso told Gazetta del Sud, "We accept his invitation to not eat his pasta."
"Here we have another example of homophobia, Italian style," added Alessandro Zan, an LGBT activist and member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. "I'm boycotting Barilla and I invite other MPs ...to do the same. I've already changed pasta brands."
On Sept. 26, Barilla America, whose headquarters are in Bannockburn, Ill., posted a message from Guido Barilla on its website: "With reference to remarks made yesterday to an Italian radio program, I apologize if my words have generated controversy or misunderstanding, or if they hurt someone's sensitivity."
The company sent out an additional apology through a public relations firm that evening: "At Barilla, we consider it our mission to treat our consumers and partners as our neighborswith love and respectand 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," read the statement.