Gay rights activists in Italy and in the US have launched a boycott of world leading pasta maker Barilla, after its chairman said he would not show gay families in the firm's ads.
Gay rights activists in Italy and in the US have launched a boycott of world leading pasta maker Barilla, after its chairman said he would not show gay families in the firm's ads, and if people objected to that, they should feel free to eat a different kind of pasta.
Guido Barilla, who, with his two brothers, runs the family-owned firm founded in 1877, was asked in a interview with Radio 24, if adverts for his company would ever feature a gay family.
"We have a slightly different culture," he replied.
"For us, the concept of sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company. Ours is a traditional family. If gays like our pasta and our communication, they will eat our pasta. If not, they can avoid it and eat another brand. You can't please everyone in order to displease no-one.
"I wouldn't do an ad with a homosexual family not because I disrespect gays - they have their right to do whatever they want without disturbing others - but because I don't think like them and I think that the family we try to address is anyway a classic family," he added.
Asked what effect his attitude would have on gay consumers of pasta, Mr Barilla said: "Well, if they like our pasta and our message they will eat it; if they don't like it and they don't like what we say they will … eat another."
Italian gay-rights organisations quickly called for a boycott.
"We accept his invitation to not eat his pasta," said Aurelio Mancuso, president of gay-rights group Equality Italia.
An apology by Guido Barilla for his remarks for gay rights activists was too little, too late.
"With reference to remarks made yesterday to an Italian radio program, I apologise if my words have generated controversy or misunderstanding, or if they hurt someone's sensitivity," Guido Barilla said in a statement. "In the interview I simply wished to underline the central role the woman plays within the family."
"For clarity, I would like to point out that: - I have the utmost respect for anyone, without distinction of any kind," he added.
"I have the utmost respect for gay people and for everyone's right to express themselves. I've also said -- and I would like to reiterate -- that I respect gay marriages.
"In its advertising, Barilla represents the family - because it's what welcomes everyone and what has always been identified with our brand."
Gay marriage is not legal in Italy.
GLAAD, an advocacy group for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, launched a petition asking US supermarket chains to stop carrying Barilla products.
"These comments are unacceptable and you should be concerned that this man's brand lives on your shelves. I strongly urge you to stop carrying Barilla products in your stores," the petition reads. On Friday morning AEST, the petition had 853 supporters.