28 Sep 2013

Pasta chief's gay comments stir up storm

7:46 pm on 28 September 2013

International gay rights supporters have called for a boycott of the Italian pasta maker Barilla, whose chairman said he would never feature a gay family in its advertising.

The comments sparked a firestorm of protest on social media and resulted in online petitions in English, German and Italian.

Beth Allen, an American mother of two and a lesbian, has already gathered 85,000 signatures for her petition to encourage people to eat other brands of pasta.

Company chairman Guido Barilla told an Italian radio station that he would never do a commercial with a homosexual family, because theirs is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role.

He also said he was unconcerned with whether gay consumers would stop buying pasta from the privately-held company that is the world's biggest pasta maker.

Mr Barilla has since apologised, saying he respects everyone, including gays and their families.

He runs the 140-year-old pasta company with his two brothers Luca and Paolo, employing 8,000 people and manufacturing 1.7 million tons of products each year.