(USA TODAY) -- Bowing to continuing criticism of his controversial remarks about
gays, Guido Barilla has pledged to meet with groups "that best represent
the evolution of the family, including those who have been offended by
The concession, posted in a video apology
on the website of his family-owned pasta giant, came as the company
tried to calm the boycott calls and criticism ignited last week when
Barilla said he would not show gay families in company ads.
"I would never make a spot with a homosexual family," Barilla said Thursday on the Italy radio program La Zanzara (The Mosquito),
according to Italian news agency ANSA. "Not out of a lack of respect
but because I do not see it like they do. (My idea of) family is a
classic family where the woman has a fundamental role."
reported that when the show's hosts noted that gays and lesbians eat
pasta, Barilla responded, "That's fine if they like our pasta and our
communication, they can eat them. Otherwise, they can eat another
Barilla also said, "I respect everyone who does what they
want to do without bothering others," ANSA reported. He said he
supported gay marriage "but not adoption in gay families."
father of multiple children, I believe it's very hard to raise kids in a
same-sex couple," Barilla said, according to ANSA.
The remarks drew an unwelcome spotlight to the Barilla Group, the private Italian
company founded in 1877 where Guido Barilla and his brothers, Luca and
Paolo, represent the fourth generation of family-owned leadership.
According to the firm's website, Barilla employs more than 8,000
workers, owns 30 production sites and each year produces 1.7 million
tons of food products distributed to 100 countries.
the company's chairman, initially issued a written apology on his
firm's website, saying that while his comments were hurtful "they are
not a genuine view of my opinion." But the comments did little to ease
rising calls for boycotts and petitions that drew thousands of
signatures from angry protesters around the world.
accept his invitation to not eat his pasta," said Aurelio Mancuso,
president of gay-rights group Equality Italia, ANSA reported
we have another example of homophobia, Italian style," said Alessandro
Zan, an Italian parliament member with the left-wing SEL party, ANSA
The furor spread internationally via Twitter, where the hashtags #boicottabarilla and #boycottbarilla prompted numerous tweets.
that we know pasta CEO G. Barilla is homophobic, it's a good day to say
DeCecco is far better anyway," tweeted actress Mia Farrow.
pasta product competitors Bertolli and San Remo used the controversy to
post social media advertising messages that stressed support for
families of all types. "Pasta for all," proclaimed a similar Buitoni ad posted on Facebook.
Dario Fo, the Nobel Prize winner and Italian actor and playwright who
once appeared in a Barilla ad, issued an open letter asking the executive to reconsider his wounding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Change.org petition posted by Fo had drawn more than 52,000 supporting
signatures as of Monday. That represents "a clear indicator that
consumers are still pretty upset. If anything, it appears these
campaigns are gaining momentum, not slowing down," Change.org spokesman
Mark Anthony Dingbaum said Monday.
So Barilla ate crow in the new video apology, saying the reaction to his comments "depressed and saddened me."
is clear that I have a lot to learn about the lively debate concerning
the evolution of the family," said Barilla. "In the coming weeks, I
pledge to meet representatives of the groups that best represent the
evolution of the family, including those who have been offended by my
GLAAD, a U.S. advocacy group for the LGBT community
that had started asking officials at U.S. supermarket chains to speak
out against Barilla's comments, on Monday called Barilla's pledge to
meet with his critics a "good first step."
pasta executive should go further, by taking steps to ensure that
same-sex couples in Italy receive equal benefits and are protected
against job discrimination, said Rich Ferraro, GLAAD's vice president of
communications. Ferraro also suggested that Barilla provide financial
help to Italy-based LGBT organizations that combat prejudice.
"I think the public backlash shows
that homophobia is bad for business today because we're living in a
world where LGBT people are respected and accepted," said Ferraro. "That
wasn't the case five years ago."
The Barilla controversy
comes three months after Dan Cathy, president of Atlanta-based food
chain Chick-fil-A, used Twitter to voice his opposition to the U.S.
Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.
day for our nation; founding fathers would be ashamed of our gen. to
abandon wisdom of the ages re: cornerstone of strong societies," Cathy
wrote in a tweet that was later deleted.
USA TODAY reported earlier this month that Chick-fil-A appeared to be offering a moderated view.
intent is not to support political or social agendas," said Steve
Robinson, the firm's executive vice president for marketing. He added
that the company's culture "is to treat every person with honor, dignity
and respect - regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual
orientation or gender."
In a separate gay rights victory,
Exxon Mobil said Friday it would provide health insurance and other
worker benefits to married same-sex couples starting Oct. 1. The
decision, which reversed years of the oil giant's opposition to such a
policy, came in response to new federal government guidelines prompted
by June's Supreme Court ruling.