March saw a global spat on the subject of IVF and gay parenting. Elton John, who has had two children with his husband David Furnish through IVF, was quick to launch into battle with iconic gay Italian designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, who, in an interview, unwisely chose to label IVF-born childern as "synthetic".
Said Gabbana: “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.” 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.
Said Elton: “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.” Wittily, he demanded a global boycott of the brand. Gabbana responded by calling Elton a fascist, a bit rich coming from the nation that gave the world Mussolini!
Said Ruth Hunt, CEO of gay equality group Stonewall: “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 its make up.”
Said Susan Golombok, Cambridge Professor and author of "Modern Families," the authoritative parental structures study: "They (gay fathers) are more involved in their childrens' lives and on average have lower levels of depression." Commenting specifcally on D and G, she added "As well as being disloyal to their community, their views are extremely uninformed. These are the kinds of beliefs and attutudes that can be harmful to children of non-traditional families."
Okay, so it's Italy where the heavy hand of Catholicism has made for a generally unthinking conservative climate. But 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, having initially said people could pick another pasta brand if they didn’t like his views, subsequently issued a grovelling apology following the furore.
Maybe D & G should get together with Signor Barilla and read up on all the recent research, including Susan Golombok's, which generally indicates that gay couples tend to be more prepared for a successful parenthood, simply due to the many obstacles they must overcome compared to their heterosexual counterparts. Whether it's through adoption or a surrogate parent, the choice for a gay couple to have a child is a seriously thought-through process. Is that true for every pregnant teenage girl in milan today? Do we hear the logic echoing around the hills of Tuscany? There's no harm in voicing the hope.
Lustralboy says: "How dumb of D&G to attack the gay community for any reason, let alone the sensitive topic of gay parenting. And how splendid to have Elton respond with appropriate invective.
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