Barilla Pasta CEO: 'I Would Never Use Homosexual Couples in my Adverts'

Gay rights groups and MPs call boycott of Barilla products over homophobic remarks.

The CEO of top-selling pasta brand Barilla, Guido Barilla, is under fire for anti-gay comments he made on an Italian radio show that Barilla won’t put gays in its advertising because it likes 'traditional' family values.  Fuelling the fire, he added that if the gays don’t like it they, “they can always go eat someone else’s pasta, Americablog reported.

The comments caused outrage amongst gay rights advocates, consumers and politicians alike who in response launched a boycott of all Barilla products:

"This is another example of Italian homophobia. I’m joining the boycott of Barilla and I hope other parliamentarians do the same,” said Alessandro Zan, a gay rights campaigner and an MP from a left-wing party, Independent reported.

Within hours, the hashtag #boicottabarilla was trending on Twitter, thanks in part to the outrage voiced by Italian members of parliament.

In response, Barilla issued a "semi" apology which in fact had the opposite effect and stirred further controversy for its sexist undertone:

“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,” he said in a translation as reported by Americablog.

Barilla’s US subsidiary apologized via Facebook and Twitter yesterday for the remarks made by the Chairman, yet has also been criticized as half-hearted particularly for failing to even mention the word “gay” or address the remarks specifically.


Jodie Gummow is a senior fellow and staff writer at AlterNet.