Guido Barilla, chairman of the privately owned worldwide brand, said his company “likes the traditional family” and promised that the public would never see images of gay people in Barilla’s advertising.
His exact words, as translated from the Italian by AmericaBlog were: “We won’t include gays in our ads, because we like the traditional family. 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 later apologized, saying that he has “the greatest respect for gays and for the freedom of expression of anyone.” He added that he respects gay marriages.
But Italian equality advocates, including Italian parliament members, are calling for a boycott. Using social media, boycott supporters are rapidly gaining attention.
Aurelio Mancuso, head of the LGBT group Equality Italia, said, "We accept the invitation from the Barilla owner to not eat his pasta.” Mancuso called for a boycott of the company's pasta, sauces and snacks.
In the United States, out actor George Takei was among the first to endorse the boycott on his Facebook page.
Barilla is one of Italy’s largest advertisers. The company’s trademark image is of a happy straight family in the Italian countryside accompanied by the slogan, "Where there's Barilla, there's home.”