A top Italian official has caused outrage by labelling an Ikea advert, which shows two gay men holding hands, as “bad taste”. Carlo Giovanardi, who is the Secretary of State for family policy, said in a TV interview: “I find it serious and in bad taste that a Swedish multinational comes to Italy to tell Italians what they should think.”
The billboard, which has been rolled out across Europe, shows two men holding hands with the caption, “We are open to all families”.
In response to the campaign, Giovanardi said, “I think that many clients of Ikea will not find this pleasant”. He added that the Swedish furniture giant is free to address who it pleases, but that using the term ‘family’ in relation to a gay couple, “is in direct opposition to our constitution, which says that family is founded on a marriage”.
Aurelio Mancuso, a gay rights activist, branded the MP’s comments as “dangerous and aggressive”, and said they “risk fuelling the climate of homophobia that drives violence and insults against gays, lesbians and transsexuals.”
Fellow gay activist and lawmaker Franco Grillini, however, blamed the conflict on Italy’s anti-gay culture, pointing out that, “in the rest of Europe, they have adopted laws that recognise all forms of family”.
Italy has no law against homophobia and does not identify same sex marriages or civil partnerships.
Giovanardi was also criticised by fellow MP Ignazio Marino for “launching a crusade against an advertisement”.