Scores of protesters have gathered outside Dolce Gabbana’s flagship London shop in response to the fashion designers’ remarks against same-sex couples bringing up children.
The campaigners, holding placards with slogans such as “homosexuality is not a crime”, bounced up and down shouting “DG – shame on you!” and “family life is not a crime”. They blew whistles and vuvuzelas and called for an international boycott of the luxury fashion store.
Peter Tatchell, the LGBT and human rights campaigner and co-organiser of Thursday’s protest, said: “We hope this protest will inspire DG stores around the world. It will send a signal to homophobes everywhere [that] disrespect to gay parents and children will result in protest.”
Tatchell added: “Their comments are not only an attack on same-sex parents but on all parents who’ve had children with the aid of fertility treatment, including thousands of heterosexual couples.”
Bridget, 26, originally from Uganda, told the Guardian she was protesting “against the bigoted statements made about IVF that greatly affect us as we are gay, and saying people are synthetic. I don’t want this hanging over my head if I want children.”
Kevin, 55, said: “I have a goddaughter who is brought up by a lesbian couple and so I am here to show solidarity.”
About a dozen police officers arrived at the store shortly after 1pm to prevent the about 50 protesters from blocking the doorways.
The rightwing columnist Rod Liddle was seen challenging Tatchell on the aim of the protest, asking him: “Why are you putting them out of business? It’s absolutely ludicrous.”
He went on to accuse Tatchell of using bullying tactics, before walking into the store for a brief browse.
Later, protesters unfurled a large rainbow flag in front of the store and read out the testimonies through a megaphone and called for the support of their right to families.
There have been widespread calls on social media for a boycott of the brand after Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, who are themselves gay, said: “We oppose gay adoptions. The only family is the traditional one.”
Over 10,000 people have now signed an online petition calling for Macy’s and Debenhams to stop stocking the brand in their department stores, until DG retract their statements and apologise.
Tatchell had earlier said: “Dolce Gabbana are echoing ill-informed, outdated and homophobic prejudices about gay parents.
“It’s intolerable for these designers to make millions out of the gay community and then turn around and insult our families. They’ve stabbed us in the back.”
Edwin Sesange, director of Out Proud Diamond Group, called for the fashion duo to withdraw their statements and apologise.
“Dolce Gabbana’s statements add to the stigma, shame, prejudice, rejection and intolerance often suffered by same-sex parents and their children,” he said.
Speaking to the Italian magazine Panorama, Dolce and Gabbana said children should be born to a mother and a father.
“You are born to a mother and a father, or at least that’s how it should be,” Dolce said. He went on to criticise IVF and surrogate parents: “I call children of chemistry synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalogue.”
Gabbana added: “The family is not a fad.”
The designers, who were formerly a couple, have in the past strongly opposed same-sex marriage.
The comments were condemned online, and in a public spat on Instagram, Sir Elton John – whose two children with husband David Furnish were conceived via IVF – called Dolce and Gabbana’s comments “archaic” and “out of step with the times, just like your fashions”.
Gabanna, who has a net worth of $1.56bn, responded to the calls for a boycott in Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper: “It’s an authoritarian way of seeing the world – agree with me or, if you don’t, I’ll attack you.”
On Instagram, Gabbana posted “Je Suis DG”, echoing the “Je Suis Charlie” slogan that was popular after the attack at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris earlier this year.