Italy’s pasta king offers ‘gay friendly’ advertising and a ‘gay advisory board’
ROME, November 6, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The apology to homosexual activists in September by one of Italy’s leading pasta makers has now been followed by a promise of “gay friendly” television advertisements.
Guido Barilla, the head of one of Italy’s most profitable packaged pasta businesses, has said that the company will be installing an “advisory board” that will “promote diversity.”
“Diversity, inclusion, and equality have long been grounded in Barilla’s culture, values, and code of conduct,” Chief Executive Officer Claudio Colzani said in a press release. “They are reflected in our policies and the benefits we provide to all employees, regardless of age, disability, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.”
“We are committed to promoting diversity further because we firmly believe that it’s the right thing to do,” Colzani said on Monday.
Guido Barilla, the 55-year-old great grandson of the company’s founder, caused a small flurry of interest from the media after homosexuals complained at comments he made on a radio talk show.
“We will not ever have a [TV] spot with a gay family. Ours is a traditional family,” he said. “If gays like our pasta and what we have said, they will eat it. If they don’t like what we say, eat another.”
Since then, Barilla has met “at least eight times” with homosexual lobby groups in Italy and the U.S. and has changed his views.
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The comments came at a sensitive moment in Italian politics, as the House of Deputies was considering a bill outlawing “homophobia.” The bill was later passed, after some amendments, and sent on to the Senate.
Its supporters in parliament have admitted openly that it is intended as a prelude to creating “gay marriage” in the country that still has a strong cultural rejection of homosexual practices.
Barilla later backed away from his original comments after a loud burst of condemnation in the media by homosexual activist groups in Italy and the U.S. He said he had never intended “a lack of respect for homosexuals, who have the right to do whatever they want in respect of others,” but added, “I don’t think like they do.”
“The family to which we address ourselves is the traditional one, where the woman plays a fundamental role. It is the structural center of the life,” he said.
This was apparently not enough for the homosexual lobby, which launched a boycott of Barilla pasta products.
Followers on Facebook and other social media sites published photos of Barilla pasta products with the label altered to read “Bigotoni” instead of “rigotoni.”
This week a spokesman for the 130-year-old company told Reuters that they had not realized how differently the world outside Parma now views homosexuality.
“Italy is a very insular country, and in cities like Parma it's even more so,” the spokesman said. “The meetings have helped open our eyes and ears to the evolution taking place in the world outside Parma.”
Reuters wrote that the “shock” of learning about the new social mores “could lead to a shift in focus from rosy depictions of traditional Italian family life that have always been the staple of Barilla advertising campaigns.”
“We are already working on new advertising concept that will be much more open and much more inclusive,” the spokesman said. The company said on its website that it would hiring U.S. homosexul activist David Mixner and Alex Zanardi, a Paralympic gold medalist, to improve “diversity and equality in the company's workforce and culture.”
The diversity board will “help Barilla establish concrete goals and strategies for improving diversity and equality in the company’s workforce and culture with regard to sexual orientation, gender balance, disability rights and multicultural and intergenerational issues.”
The company has also appointed a “Chief Diversity Officer” and launched a contest to “designed to engage people on diversity, inclusion and equality.” Customers can send in “short videos that represent the multifaceted nature of pasta.”
Barilla has also agreed to have the company rated on its policies towards homosexual employees by the “corporate equality index,” a project of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the leading international homosexual lobby groups.
Not all the commentary on Barilla’s support for the traditional family was one way. Deputy Eugenia Rocella, a member of Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party (PdL) and one of the leading voices in Italy’s parliament against the homophobia bill, had called him “a brave man.”
In these times, she said, “it takes courage to defend the family consisting of a man and a woman and maybe even ‘founded on marriage,’ as it says in our Constitution.”
She described the attacks on him by “gay associations” as “obsessive” and said the call for a boycott “shows how well-founded are the fears for freedom of expression expressed during the parliamentary debate on homophobia.”
“If you have an idea of marriage that differs from that of gay activists (which do not coincide with that of the whole homosexual world) all this will be unleashed. What would happen with a law like that just voted on by the House?”
Roccella said that the bill is nothing more than a political tool of the Letta government to appease the far-Left and presents “heavy risks to freedom of expression and association of citizens.”