Barilla chairman angers gay rights activists

Guido Barilla, chairman of Italian pasta company Barilla has sparked anger amongst gay rights activists and politicians by stating that he would not consider using a gay family to advertise the brand.

Guido Barilla said that he would only portray the ‘classic family’ in the company’s advertisements and that consumers should choose a different brand of pasta if they objected, The Guardian reports.

"For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the basic values of the company," he told Italian radio on Wednesday evening. "I would not do it but not out of a lack of respect for homosexuals who have the right to do what they want without bothering others … [but] I don't see things like they do and I think the family that we speak to is a classic family."

"If they (homosexuals) 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."

The chairman’s comments prompted the head of Equality Italia, Aurelio Mancuso to launch a boycott against the company.

"Accepting the invitation of Barilla's owner to not eat his pasta, we are launching a boycott campaign against all his products," said Mancuso.

MP for the opposition Left Ecology Freedom Party, Alessandro Zen said that he will be taking part in the boycott and encouraged others to do the same.

"Here is another example of Italian homophobia. I am taking part in the [Barilla] boycott and invite other MPs – at least those who are not resigning – to do the same."

Barilla has since issued a statement apologising for his remarks, stating that he was simply trying to draw attention to the role that women play in the family.

"I apologise if my words generated misunderstandings or arguments, or if they offended the sensibilities of some people," the statement read.