The chairman of Barilla pasta says his company would never use gay families in ads because "we like traditional family," sparking calls for a boycott in Italy and beyond.
Guido Barilla made the comments in an interview Wednesday with La Zanzara on Radio24.
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"I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don't agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role," Barilla, 55, said in the interview.
If people don't like it, "they can always eat another brand of pasta," he added.
Left-wing politicians and gay rights groups in Italy were quick to respond, calling for a boycott of all Barilla products that sparked the Twitter hashtag #boicottabarilla.
"We accept his invitation to not eat his pasta," said Aurelio Mancuso, president of Equality Italia.
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Alessandro Zan, a gay member of parliament, called it "another example of homophobia, Italian style."
Others like Maria Rita Munizzi, president of the Italian Parents Movement, expressed support.
"We appreciate the choice to showcase (Barilla's) products with the natural family," she said.
Barilla did issue a statement on Thursday apologizing, explaining that he was trying to say "simply that the woman plays a central role in a family."