The famous Italian pasta maker Barilla -- which reportedly has nearly half the pasta market in Italy and a quarter of the market in the U.S. -- is in hot water today after Guido Barilla, the company's chairman, said in a radio interview last night that his company doesn't like gays, and if gay people have a problem with that, they should feel free to take their business elsewhere:
"We won't include homosexuals in our ads, because we like the traditional family. If the gays don't agree, they could always eat other brands of pasta. Everyone is free to do whatever they want provided it does not annoy others."
The Independent reports that Barilla went on to slam same-sex adoption: "I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose."
Barilla's comments have incensed supporters of LGBT rights in Italy, including pro-equality members of the Italian parliament. Activists have called for a boycott of all twenty Barilla-owned brands.
From The Independent:
Alessandro Zan, a gay rights campaigner and an MP in the left-wing Sel (Sinistra Ecologia Libertà) party, said: "This is another example of Italian homophobia. I'm joining the boycott of Barilla and I hope other parliamentarians do the same."
MP Ivan Scalfarotto of the center-left Democratic Party was equally dismayed. He said, "It's depressing that a businessman used to working and traveling around the world should say what Guido Barilla had said. I certainly won't be buying his products anymore."
In the wake of the backlash caused by Barilla's homophobic comments, the company switched into damage-control mode. It released a statement earlier today which it attributed to Barilla himself:
"I'm sorry if my comments on La Zanzara have created misunderstanding or polemic, or if I've offended anyone. In the interview I only wanted to underline the central role of the woman in the family."
I'm sorry too, Mr. Barilla, but your half-assed non-apology is too little too late. You want gays to buy other pasta if they don't agree with your bigotry? Fine -- you've lost my family's business, and I imagine the business of many equality supporters in Italy, the United States, and around the world as well.
Molto ben fatto.
UPDATE: A married Italian American lesbian responds to Guido Barilla.
UPDATE 2: Barilla attempts to apologize. Do you accept?
UPDATE 3: Rivals make social media hay out of Barilla's bigotry
UPDATE 4: Barilla chairman apologizes again, this time on video