The singer – and parent to two children born through IVF – reacts to Domenico Dolce’s remarks about ‘synthetic children’ and ‘wombs for rent’
Designers Domenico Gabbana and Stefano Dolce have hit back back in a row with Elton John, who called for a boycott of their fashion house after they expressed opposition to gay couples having children.
The pair released statements on Sunday insisting they were not seeking to judge families that did not have a mother and father.
Dolce said that, while his own family was “traditional”, that did not “imply that I don’t understand different ones”.
He said: “I was talking about my personal view, without judging other people’s choices and decisions.”
Gabbana said: “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.”
Earlier, John and leading gay rights groups had called for the boycott as designers’ comments about fertility treatment were labelled “archaic” and “deeply insulting”.
People born through IVF were referred to as “synthetic children” and Gabbana referred to “wombs for rent”.
John, who has had two children with his husband David Furnish through IVF, said the remarks, which were made in an interview last week, were “out of step with the times”. Speaking to the Italian magazine Panorama alongside his business partner, Stefano Gabbana, the designer said children should be born to a mother and a father.
“I’m not convinced by those I call the children of chemicals, synthetic children,” he added. “Wombs for rent, sperm chosen from a catalogue ... psychiatrists are not ready to confront the effects of this experimentation,” he said. Dolce, who spent more than 20 years in a relationship with Gabbana, went on to say he could not have a child because he was gay.
Speaking on Sunday, Gabbana said: “We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it.”
And his business partner said: “I’m Sicilian and I grew up in a traditional family, made up of a mother, a father and children. I am very well aware of the fact that there are other types of families and they are as legitimate as the one I’ve known.
“But in my personal experience, family had a different configuration. That is the place where I learnt the values of love and family.”
John became a parent, along with Furnish, in 2010 and 2013 through the use of a surrogate mother in the US.
Reacting to their interview comments, he wrote on Instagram: “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 their dream of having children.”
He ended his note with the campaign hashtag #BoycottDolceGabbana. Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said he was also supporting a D&G boycott.
He told the Guardian: “It’s quite outrageous that two gay fashion designers who have relied on the gay community for much of their success are opposing gay equality. They’re lining up with the Pope and the far right in their support for legal discrimination.”
He added: “If they don’t want to be parents that’s fine, but it’s deeply insulting to disparage the many same sex parents who have brought up children happily and successfully.”
Ruth Hunt, the chief executive of the LGBT equality group Stonewall, added: “We strongly dispute the comments made by Dolce and Gabbana. Being a good parent has nothing to do with sexual orientation or whether a child has two mums or two dads. The important thing is a loving family, whatever it’s make up.”
While the two D&G designers have been collectively criticised for the comments, Gabbana told Panorama he was open to becoming a father and has since said the suggestion he is against gay adoption is wrong. “A question is followed by an answer. Respect comes from accepting different views!” Gabbana wrote on Instagram.
“Their position is absolutely personal and it contradicts the global movement for adoption and gay rights. Gay people have the right to be considered equal to others, in bringing up a child,” he told the Guardian.
While same-sex partnerships and adoption are yet to be legalised in Italy, Romani said other people’s access to such rights should not be opposed on principle. “If there was gay marriage, they’re not obliged to get married. If adoption was possible, their not obliged to adopt. There must be an option to make a choice,” he said.
Dolce did however win support in Italy from Federica Chiavaroli, a senator from the New Centre-Right (NCD) party. “I’m with @dolcegabbana...Long live the family with a mother and a father,” she wrote on Twitter.
The traditional family model has been at the centre of the latest fashion campaign by D&G, whose new collection is titled “Viva la mamma”. Off the catwalk, an ongoing #DGfamily social media campaign encourages people to publish their family photos online.
Dolce said the campaign was aimed at encouraging families to stick together. “We tried to give the idea of the clan, of the strength of the union. My mother always implored me and my brothers to stay united,” he said.
But while the tight-knit family has been a staple of Italian branding and advertising for decades, openly excluding same-sex couples has caused controversy.
The country’s leading pasta company, Barilla, faced a boycott in 2013 when its chairman said he would never use a gay family in an advert. Guido Barilla initially said people could pick another pasta brand if they didn’t like his views, but issued an apology following the furore.
The negative reaction to Barilla reflected the gradual change in public opinion in Italy, where conservative views have made way for more liberal voices.
This article was written by Rosie Scammell in Rome, Kevin Rawlinson and Josh Halliday in London, for theguardian.com on Sunday 15th March 2015 17.10 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010