Posted Friday, September 27th 2013 @ 9am  by  Barbie  Latza Nadeau

Boycotting pasta is not something Italians take lightly.   But when the head of Italy’s popular Barilla pasta, which is the world’s largest  producer and exporter of the Italian staple, told a provocative radio program  that he would never consider using a gay couple to advertise his pasta products,  gay rights activists, politicians and consumers vowed to boycott the products.  “I would never feature a gay couple in our advertisements,” Guido Barilla said  to Italy’s Radio24.  He said it was ok if gays “like our pasta” and “our  communication” referring to the brand’s traditional family-centric marketing.  “Otherwise, they can eat another pasta. You can’t always please everyone.”  Barilla later added insult to injury by explaining that what he meant was that  their company ads wanted to reinforce the role of women as mothers, caregivers  and the nutritional head of household.


Barilla’s comments were met with scorn and indignation among gay rights  activists, women’s equality advocates and parliamentarians who have been  lobbying to introduce a string of anti-homophobic and anti-sexist measures in  recent weeks.  Italy has one of Europe’s worst track records for sexist  advertising and homophobic hate crimes.  Nearly 1,000 cases of verbal and  physical aggression against gay and lesbian people are reported each year,  according to Italy’s Gay Helpline. In the last four years, 20 transsexuals have  been killed in Italy, according to the group Transgender Europe.


The Italian parliament has been campaigning to make overtly sexist  advertising taboo. In fact, Barilla’s comments came in response to criticism  that his company’s marketing campaign almost always showed a man and children  sitting at the table with a woman serving them. Earlier this week, the president  of the House of Deputies, Laura Boldrini, told parliament that she was tired of seeing stereotypes  reinforced in mainstream advertising. “I always ask myself, would these ads run  in other countries? The answer is no, absolutely no,” she said.  “It is not  acceptable to always see an ad with the father and children always sitting at  the table and the mother serving them.”


Barilla shot back that their family business, now in its fourth generation,  was defending the traditional mother-father family. A spokesperson for Barilla  told The Daily Beast that the media was sensationalizing the comments, and  passed on a prepared statement: “I apologize if my words have generated  controversy or misunderstanding or if they hurt anyone’s sensitivity.”


Barilla’s remarks caused a Twitter frenzy under the hashtag #biocottabarilla  or boycott Barilla, which was still trending in Italy on Friday morning. There  were also reports of pasta aisles being vandalized in grocery stores in Bologna,  considered the most gay-friendly city in Italy.  Barilla agreed to meet  with gay rights advocates to try to calm the controversy, but the damage to the  company could be worse than a gluten-allergy epidemic.. “We need to boycott any  company that undermines equality,” Alessandro Zan, a parliamentarian for the  left-wing SEL (Sinestra Ecologia Liberta) party told The Daily Beast.  “But  we also need to educate the public who agree with Barilla’s sentiment.”

Read The Full Article On  The Daily Beast

Here are some of the comments on twitter...

Is it wise to boycott a company that employs so many people, may be even gay families?