Activists push for Barilla to add LGBT employee protections

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The LGBT community is determined not to let Barilla off easy. While chairman Guido Barilla has issued multiple apologies, many remain skeptical of his sincerity.

To determine that Barilla’s remorse is not simply a business tactic to repair the company’s marred image, activists are requesting the company add protections for current and prospective LGBT employees.

Tico Almeida, president of advocacy group Freedom to Work, is heading the appeal for Barilla to extend its equal employment opportunity policy. While the policy currently prohibits discrimination on grounds of race and religion, it does not include orientation or gender identity.

“If Barilla is serious about including LGBT people at the dinner table, they should also give LGBT employees a fair shot to contribute in the workplace,” Almeida said in a statement. “We urge the Barilla Group to update their equal employment opportunity policy to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, just as it already bans racial and religious discrimination.”

In case you missed Guido Barilla’s spout of homophobic malarkey, here’s a quote from his interview with La Zanzara on Radio 24 last Wednesday, September 25. Barilla was asked why the company ads don’t feature gay families:

“We have a slightly different culture,” said Barilla, according to a Huffington Post translation. “For us, the ‘sacral family’ remains one of the company’s core values. Our family is a traditional family. If gays like our pasta and our advertisings, they will eat our pasta; if they don’t like that, they will eat someone else’s pasta…I would not do a commercial with a homosexual family.”

Aiming to repair the damage, Barilla published a statement to the company website on Thursday, September 25. His meager attempt at absolving himself of accusations of homophobia only ended in a misogynistic comment that offended many women:

“With reference to statements made yesterday, I apologize if my words have generated controversy or misunderstanding, or if they have hurt the sensibilities of some people. In the interview, I simply wanted to highlight the central role of the woman in the family.”

Due to the public’s continued dissatisfaction with his apologies, Barilla released a video, in which he apologizes for a fourth time. You know, just in case we women were too busy boiling water in the kitchen to hear the last one.

“Yesterday I apologized for offending many people around the world. Today, I am repeating that apology. Through my entire life I have always respected every person I’ve met, including gays and their families without any distinction. I’ve never discriminated against anyone.

I have heard the countless reactions around the world to my words, which have impressed and saddened me. It is clear that I have a lot to learn about the lively debate concerning the evolution of the family. 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 words.”

Perhaps some are still displeased due to phrases like, “I’ve never discriminated against anyone.” Call me crazy, but announcing to the world that you would never feature a gay family in one of your ads because you uphold the ‘sacral family’ is discrimination.

While Barilla’s pledge to meet with activists is a good start, extending employee protections would most likely do a better job. 

Barilla’s catatonic apology is available on YouTube

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