After saying that he would never advertise his company’s products using a gay family and that gay people “can go and eat another brand” if they didn’t like the decision, Barilla pasta chairman now says he is sorry if his words offended anyone, The Independent reports.
In comments made on La Zanzara radio show, Guido Barilla said the “concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company.”
Everyone has the “right to do what they want without disturbing those around them,” he said.
Barilla then took exception to gay adoption, saying he has “no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose.”
Fallout from Barilla’s statements was swift, with The Guardian reporting that the hashtag “boicotta-barilla” was trending on Twitter within hours.
In the wake of calls for a boycott of the pasta company, Barilla took to Facebook to apologize.
A translation of his apology states that he has the “deepest respect for people” without any distinction.
“I have the utmost respect for homosexuals and freedom of expression. I also said, and repeat, that I have respect for marriages between people of the same sex,” the statement says, noting that Barilla’s advertising has “always chosen to represent the family because this is the symbol of hospitality and love for everyone.”
Centre-left MP Ivan Scalfarotto is not buying Barilla’s apology.
“It’s depressing that a businessman used to working and travelling around the world should say what Guido Barilla had said. I certainly won’t be buying his products any more,” The Independent quotes him as saying.
Gay rights groups called for a boycott of the Parma-based company’s 20 brands, which include Voiello pasta and Filiz and Misko products, the report says.
LGBT advocacy organizations in the US and Canada called on the Barilla Group to take specific actions in the wake of the remarks.
Freedom to Work, a US organization that works to end workplace discrimination, is calling on the company to update its equal employment opportunity policy to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“If Barilla is serious about including LGBT people at the dinner table, they should also give LGBT employees a fair shot to contribute in the workplace,” Freedom to Work president Tico Almeida says in a statement.
The LGBT Parenting Network, based in Sherbourne, Ontario, has written to Barilla Canada asking it to clarify its position “regarding LGBTQ families in advertising for your products.”
“We also urge you to consider advertising that portrays LGBTQ families positively,” the letter reads.
Following chairman Barilla’s apology on Facebook, Barilla US issued its own apology on the social network site:
“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.”