Guido Barilla, president of the family-owned Barilla pasta company, said in a radio interview on Wednesday that his company only supports "the traditional family" and that LGBT people "can go eat someone else's pasta." According to John Aravosis at Americablog, Barilla has since backtracked on his remarks somewhat, but many LGBT people around the world are reacting angrily to the slam by the head of the massive, global brand.
"We won’t include gays in our ads, because we like the traditional family," Barilla told an interviewer. "If gays don’t like it, they can always eat another brand of pasta. Everyone is free to do what they want, provided it doesn’t bother anyone else.”
Barilla said today that he meant no ill will toward LGBT people with his remarks, saying in a statement, "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 also said that he has "the utmost respect for any person, without distinction of any kind,” and “the greatest respect for gays and for the freedom of expression of anyone.”
Reuters reported that rights groups are calling for a boycott of Barilla's pastas, sauces and other foods.
Aurelio Mancuso of Equality Italia called Barilla's remarks an "offensive provocation" and added that "(w)e accept the invitation from the Barilla owner to not eat his pasta."
Gay Italian minister of parliament Alessandro Zan tweeted, "You can't mess around with consumers, including gay ones."
[image of Guido Barilla addressing Italian Cisco expo via Flickr user pandemia's photostream, Creative Commons licensed]