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Pasta Chairman Guido Barilla Apologizes for Anti-Gay Remarks Amid International Outrage

Barillo Chairman Guido Barilla apologized on Facebook this morning after remarks he made on a radio program inspired calls from all around the world for a boycott of the pasta maker.

BarillaSaid Barilla on Facebook (loosely translated):

With reference to my statements yesterday to the press, I apologize if my words have offended some people.

For clarity I would like to point out that I have the deepest respect for all people, without distinction of any kind.

I have the utmost respect for homosexuals and freedom of expression. I also said, and repeat, that I have respect for marriages between people of the same sex.

Barilla in its advertising has always chosen to represent the family because this is the symbol of hospitality and love for everyone.

Said Barilla on the Italian radio show La Zanzara last night:

“I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don’t like it they can go an eat another brand...For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company....Everyone has the right to do what they want without disturbing those around them..."

He then added: "I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose."

Barilla Pasta Chief: We Don't Like Gays, They Can Eat Another Brand


We won't be buying any more Barilla pasta.

The independent reports: 2_barilla

Guido Barilla, whose firm has almost half the Italian pasta market and a quarter of that in the US, told Italy’s La Zanzara radio show last night: “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don’t like it they can go an eat another brand.

“For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company.”

He added: “Everyone has the right to do what they want without disturbing those around them”. But then the pasta magnate upped the ante by attacking gay adoption. “I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose," he said.

Here's a report in Italian.

Italian activists are calling for a boycott of 20 brands owned by the company including Voiello pasta and Filiz and Misko products.

UPDATE: Guido Barilla is now apologizing on Facebook.

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American Family Association Finally Ends Its Failed Boycott of The Home Depot

Home Depot

The anti-gay hate group American Family Association announced this week that it would be officially ending its ineffective, three-year boycott of The Home Depot over the company's policies in support of LGBT people. According to AFA's director of special projects Randy Sharp (pictured), the boycott was ultimately a success, although he also failed to offer any specifics about what actions the company took that led to AFA's declaration of victory.

RsharpSaid Sharp:

"We're glad to report that we are suspending the boycott of The Home Depot. After monitoring the company for several months, we're satisfied that the company has withdrawn its major financial contributions to gay activist groups and their activities. [...]

We certainly do expect The Home Depot to deny that they have turned back their contributions to gay activist groups, but AFA has monitored the company - and actions speak louder than words.

Back in 2010, AFA began the nationwide boycott of The Home Depot over the company's commitment to "furthering the homosexual agenda." Executives at The Home Depot, however, remained committed to promoting diversity and continued to support organizations such as Out and Equal Workplace Advocates and the Human Rights Campaign. Indeed, Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes offered a response AFA's announcement this week, indicating that nothing at the company has changed since the boycott began. 

"We haven't made any changes to our policies for inclusion and respect of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. We have not directed our associates to discontinue participation in Pride or other community events, and have no intention of doing so. 

Towleroad readers will remember AFA's One Million Moms boycott of JC Penney last year over the company's hiring of Ellen DeGeneres as spokesperson being a similar dud. Its nice to see AFA's standards of 'success' continue to diminish year after year...  

Coca-Cola Defends Sponsorship of 2014 Sochi Winter Games, Touts LGBT Support

Coke Olympic Sponsor

As one of the biggest corporate sponsors of the International Olympic Committee and the extremely controversial Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Coca-Cola has been experiencing some bad press as of late with the LGBT community. Earlier today, members of the group Queer Nation, joined by members of other LGBT advocacy organizations, protested Coke in Times Square by dumping the cola down city drains. As a response to the recent controversy, Coke issued a response on its official website, saying:

"As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, we value and celebrate diversity.  We have long been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and have advocated for inclusion and diversity through both our policies and practices. We do not condone human rights abuses, intolerance or discrimination of any kind anywhere in the world."

The company defends its sponsorship of the IOC and Olympic Games, saying that it has seen the games act as a tool to spread good and the Olympics' core values, "excellence, friendship and respect," across the globe. They also list their own credentials in terms of LGBT inclusiveness, which are as follows:

  • "We have a long-standing HR policy protecting our employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression."
  • "We have a Global Mutual Respect Policy that sets out our expectations for how employees should treat one another as well as anyone they interact with as a representative of the Company.  The policy outlines our commitment to valuing diversity and inclusion and providing a workplace free of discrimination or  harassment. You can read more about this at:"
  • "We have scored 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index every year since it was launched in 2006."
  • "We have had an LGBT Business Resource Group at the Company for 13 years that is funded and supported through the Chief Diversity Officer’s department."
  • "We were one of the first companies in the U.S. to publicly support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to protect employees from discrimination due to sexual orientation."
  • "We have provided financial support and significant Company presence to several LGBT events over the past several years, including numerous Pride festivals and parades across the country."
  • "Our Global Supplier Diversity team participates in outreach events such as the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) Awards Dinner, the NGLCC Business and Leadership Conference, and the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Corporate Sponsors Reception."

Coke protestBefore you dismiss the company's statement as simply a re-hashing of the same statement made to Buzzfeed earlier, know that this new declaration includes two key sentences:

"We are engaging with the International Olympic Committee on this important matter. We believe a more positive impact can be made through continued involvement, rather than by sitting on the sidelines."

This marks the first indication by Coke that it has any intention of holding the IOC responsible for defending LGBT and human rights in Russia. Previously, GE was the only Olympics sponsor to express a similar sentiment. One could still argue that Coke's vague wording does not technically commit them to any concrete action. Nevertheless, it still represents a change (a small one, but a change) on the part of the beverage conglomerate.

Presently, none of the organizations protesting Coke have issued a response to the company's statement. Given that said groups provided Coke with a list of demands that still currently remain unmet, though, it is not likely that their stance will change very much or at all. 

(photo by scott wooledge)

Russian Anti-Gay Policies 'Could Kill Its Cities'

Russia has undergone no shortage of bad press in recent months. Its newly adopted anti-gay propaganda hve prompted outrage the world over, and have already put a damper on events such as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, months or even years in advance. 

Now, The Atlantic is reporting that Lansing, Michigan, is joining the growing list of global municipalities that are loooking to sever ties with their Russian "sister cities", which already includes the likes of Milan, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Reykjavik. Thus, as Russia inists on moving contrary to the global march toward human rights, the consequences could prove to have political and economic impact:

"St. Petersburg was, for hundreds of years, a city that took pride in its relative openness to global culture. When Peter the Great founded the city in 1703, he envisioned it as a "window on the West," a place where the values of the Enlightenment could be explored and celebrated. It was designed and built by the finest talents from around the world.

"Now, St. Petersburg is leading the way backward. Russia and its cities, by pursuing draconian anti-gay policies, are shutting themselves out of a global community where the benefits of an open society are ever more apparent."

Stolichnaya-1280x960It's no secret that international events such as the Olympics and the World Cup have the potential to generate a host of financial benefits for its host city and host nation. This is, of course, why so many cities vie for a chance to host such events. That said, should hosting a global event prove to be the potential source of controversy for the event's governing body, it would almost certainly deter them from coming back to that same city of country in the future. That's also not counting international boycotts of Russian products, which already have large companies such as SPI Group looking for ways to completely sever ties with the anti-gay nation. Let's also not forget the tourism dollars that Russia stands to lose in the future, from both gay tourists as well as those whom support human rights in general.

Finally, as The Atlantic illustrated by presenting the story of journalist and activist Masha Gessen, Russia's anti-gay laws have prompted an exodus of gay citizens, as well as their advocates. This only exacerbates the country's appartent desire "to shut down intellectually," and cost the country potentially vital intellectual capital. Thus, while the short term costs of losing "sister city" partnerships may be small, in the words of The Atlantic, "They are losing their future."

Olympics Corporate Sponsors Get Grilled On Russian Controversy

Olympic Sponsors

With human rights atrocities causing controversy in Russia, scrutiny of the 2014 Olympic games and its sponsors seems to be at an all time high. LGBT rights advocates have already begun targeting Olympic corporate sponsors such as Procter & Gamble and McDonalds. Now, Buzzfeed is attempting to gather statements from even more corporate sponsors, despite the fact that many seemed reluctant to do so. 

Sochi LogoA vast majority of statements provided back to Buzzfeed seemed to echo prior statements made by the International Olympic Committee. Many even referred to some of those statements directly. Those sponsors included Dow Chemical, Samsung, McDonald’s and Visa, which all used strikingly similar verbiage "down to the adjectives used, suggesting coordination among the sponsors or directly from the IOC itself." All four, for instance, used the sentence, in some form or another, "___________ believes in the spirit of the Games and its unique ability to unite the world in a way that is positive and inspirational."

Panasonic and Adecco, a workforce solutions company, both chose to give responses that were even less committal. Adecco told Buzzfeed “we’re closely monitoring these developments, but I’m afraid we cannot offer a comment at this stage.” Panasonic, meanwhile, informed them that the company “has no involvement in, and is not in a position to comment on political and social matters related to the Olympic Games or specific governments in any country or region.” At the same time, Procter & Gamble and Microsoft chose not to respond to Buzzfeed at all. 

Sochi Olympic RingsGE seemed to be the one sponsor that was willing to hold th IOC accountable in any way, saying in their statement that “we expect the IOC to uphold human rights in every aspect of the Games.” It isn't exactly clear, though, what GE is prepared to do to ensure that standard, or what sort of consequences it intends to present, if any. The IT company Athos took a slightly softer stand, saying that "We are fully confident that the IOC will do the right thing." While that sort of statement is significantly more passive, it at least puts some pressure on the IOC to modify its current stance. 

Some companies also chose to spotlight their previous records of LGBT inclusion and advocacy. One such company was Coca-Cola, which touted its prior record as "a strong supporter of the LGBT community [that has] advocated for inclusion and diversity through both our policies and practices.” McDonalds also added in their statement that "there’s no room for discrimination under the Golden Arches." 

You can read Buzzfeed's full report HERE


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