Barilla Pasta President: Gays Can Eat Another Brand

by Jason St. Amand

National News Editor

Thursday September 26, 2013

Is the Barilla pasta company about to get Chick-fil-A'd?

The Italian food company's president, Guido Barilla, has come under fire after making controversial comments about the LGBT community when he appeared on Italy's La Zanzara radio show Wednesday night, the British newspaper the Independent reports.

"I would never do an advert with a homosexual family... if the gays don't like it they can go an[d] eat another brand," Guido Barilla said. "For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company."

The remarks didn't stop there, however, as he went on to say: "Everyone has the right to do what they want without disturbing those around them."

He then decided to lash out against gay adoption, saying, "I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose."

LGBT activists in Italy are criticizing the pasta magnate and are calling for a boycott against the company, including Alesssandro Zan, a Member of Parliament in the left-wing Sel (Sinistra Ecologia Libertà) party, the Independent reports.

"This is another example of Italian homophobia. I'm joining the boycott of Barilla, and I hope other parliamentarians do the same," Zan said.

Gay rights supporters want to boycott all brands owned by Barilla, which is located in Parma, Italy and often uses "images of young, blond-haired children and their attractive parents," in their advertising, the Independent writes. Barilla is also the world's largest pasta maker.

A spokesman for Britain's leading gay rights charity group, Stonewall, spoke to Huffington Post UK about Barilla's statements.

"It's odd that in such a tough economy Barilla is alienating huge numbers of customers in this way," he said. "With so many pasta brands out there gay customers can easily show their disgust the next time they go grocery shopping. These comments will surely cost Barilla a pretty penne..."

The company is already feeling the heat, however, and as Barilla issued an apology on Thursday.

"I’m sorry if my comments on La Zanzara have created misunderstanding or polemic, or if I’ve offended anyone. In the interview I only wanted to underline the central role of the woman in the family," he said.

Barilla’s official Facebook page posted another apology on Thursday:

"With reference to my statements made yesterday .... I apologize if my words have led to misunderstandings or controversy, and have offended the sensibilities of some people," the post reads. "For clarity I would like to point out that I have the deepest respect for any person, without distinction. I have the utmost respect for homosexuals and for freedom of expression to anyone. I also said and repeat that I respect marriages between persons of the same sex. Barilla in its advertising has always chosen to represent the family because this is a symbol of welcome and of suffering for all. Guido Barilla"

Ivan Scalfarotto, an MP in the center-left Democratic Party didn’t buy the businessman’s apology, however.

"It’s depressing that a businessman used to working and travelling around the world should say what Guido Barilla had said, he said. "I certainly won’t be buying his products any more."

Though Italian lawmakers who support LGBT rights are calling out Barilla, America Blog reports that Italian "family" advocates are supporting the pasta company, claiming that gay families are not "natural." Those advocates even say that criticizing Barilla for his statements on gays is an attack on "civil liberties."

As HuffPo reports, Guido and his brothers, Luca and Paolo, run Barilla. The company is in its 140th year, owns 13 brands and produces 1.7 million tons of products, which are distributed to 100 countries each year.

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