The president of Italian pasta company Barilla has issued a video apology onto Facebook after falling under controversy for saying he would never sanction an advert featuring a gay family.

Guido Barilla came under fire last week, after he said: “I would never make a spot with a homosexual family. Not out of a lack of respect but because I don’t see it like they do. (My idea of) family is a classic family where the woman has a fundamental role.”

Following the outspoken remarks, Labour MEP Michael Cashman called for a boycott of the brand, which is readily available in UK stores.

In Mr Barilla’s recent Facebook apology, however, he insists that he has always treated everyone equally and fairly.

He said: “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.”

He added: “I have heard the countless reactions across the world to my words, which have depressed and saddened me.

“It is clear that I have a lot to learn about the lively debate concerning the evolution of the family.”

The video ends with Mr Barilla promising to meet with group representatives.

As well as UK boycotts, Barilla faced widespread criticism from LGBT campaigners and also from several politicians in Italy.

“Here we have another example of homophobia, Italian style,” said Alessandro Zan, an MP with the left-wing SEL party. “I’m boycotting Barilla and I invite other MPs…to do the same. I’ve already changed pasta brands. Barilla is terrible quality”.

The hashtag #boicottabarilla (boycottbarilla) has since been trending on Twitter.

Attempting to play-down his original remarks, Guido Barilla previously said: “With reference to statements made yesterday, I apologise 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.”