Barilla boss denied award over gay remarks

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Guido Barilla. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
17:48 CEST+02:00
Councillors for Italy's People of Freedom (PdL) party have withdrawn their nomination for Guido Barilla, the president of the Barilla pasta firm, to receive Milan’s prestigious Ambrogino d’Oro award after he said he would never allow adverts featuring gay families.

PdL councillors Pietro Tatarella and Matteo Forte have backtracked their decision to nominate Barilla’s president for the prestigious Ambrogino d’Oro award following the media storm that erupted over the president’s comments on Italian radio.

With a maximum of 30 medals awarded each year, the Ambrogino d’Oro is an award conferred by the council of Milan. The prize-giving takes place on December 7th.

“We want to avoid controversy. We will propose his nomination next year, so we can discuss it with the utmost calm,” the councilors were quoted by Corriere della Sera as saying.

Speaking on Italy’s Radio24 in September, Barilla had told listeners: “I am for the traditional family, I will never have an advert with a gay family.”

“For us the concept of the family is sacred...we will not do a gay advert because ours is a traditional family,” he was quoted in the paper as saying.

Confident in his decision, the company president continued: “If you don’t like what we say, you can eat another [pasta brand].”

The comments sparked an immediate backlash calling for Barilla products to be boycotted, with #boicottabarilla trending on Twitter.

He has since taken to social media to apologize.

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"While we can't undo recent remarks, we can apologize. To all our friends, family, employees and partners that we have hurt or offended, we are deeply sorry," the family-owned company said on its US Facebook page.

In the last few days Barilla has also met with representatives from Italian gay rights groups. 

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