What is #BoycottDolceGabbana? Why anti-gay comments may be bad for business

Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are experiencing backlash with #BoycottDolceGabbana after making comments against same-sex families. Does freedom of expression extend to businesses?

Stefano Rellandini/Reuters/File
Italian fashion duo Domenico Dolce (right) and Stefano Gabbana gained criticism after the pair championed "traditional" families.

After making comments critical of same-sex parents, Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana may have put their fashion company into dangerous business territory. Their comments have sparked the trending hashtag #BoycottDolceGabbana on Twitter, and it is possible their views may affect sales.

In an interview with Italian publication Panorama, the business partners discussed their views of marriage and childrearing. Despite both being gay – and having been a couple for 23 years before separating in 2005 – they expressed their disagreement with same-sex parenting.

“We oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one,” the pair said to Panorama, translated by The Telegraph. “Life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.”

Dolce said that childbearing “must be an act of love,” and that naturally a child should be born to a mother and father. He also made comments critical of in vitro fertilization, saying that it is unnatural for humans.

“I call children of chemistry, synthetic children.” he said, according to The Telegraph.

After the article began to gain attention, singer Elton John posted on Instagram his disagreement and disappointment in the pair. He wrote:

“How dare you refer to my beautiful children as synthetic. And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF — a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil [sic] their dream of having children. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana.”

Elton John was not the only celebrity to promote #BoycottDolceGabbana.

Is it too late for Dolce & Gabbana to recant, and should they have to?

Recently, multiple companies have come out arguing that supporting – and legalizing – gay marriage across the country would be a good business move. Apple, Google, and other tech giants argue that not legalizing and supporting gay marriage results in negative affects to the workforce, such as introducing challenges to recruiting and maintaining the most talented employees in areas that do not support gay rights.

It is not surprising that it works in reverse.

After #BoycottDolceGabbana gained traction, the fashion pair issued a statement in an attempt to explain the thought behind their previous statements.

"We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it," Gabbana said, according to the Huffington Post. "We talked about our way of seeing reality, but it was never our intention to judge other people's choices. We do believe in freedom and love."

Dolce added, after explaining his own experience growing up with both a mother and a father: “This is the reality in which I grew up, but it does not imply that I don't understand different ones. I was talking about my personal view, without judging other people's choices and decisions.”

The pair argued that they are allowed freedom of expression. But consumers are also free to spend their dollars wherever they wish, regardless of that freedom.

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