What’s Behind the Dolce & Gabbana “Synthetic Baby” Controversy

Dawn Davenport

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Dolce & Gabbana IVF and Gay Family Controversy

In an interview with the Italian magazine, Panorama, fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, who are both gay and were a couple for 23 years until breaking up in 2005, said the following*:

“I’m not convinced by those I call the children of chemicals, synthetic children. Wombs for rent, sperm chosen from a catalogue … psychiatrists are not ready to confront the effects of this experimentation.”

“No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed.”

“The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.”

“We oppose gay adoptions…the only family is the traditional one.”

Having children should be an “act of love”.

“I am opposed to the idea of a child growing up with two gay parents.”

“A child needs a mother and a father. I could not imagine my childhood without my mother. I also believe that it is cruel to take a baby away from its mother.”

The interview was related to the Dolce & Gabbana fashion show in Milan earlier this year. Motherhood was the theme with models carrying babies and walking with young children.

Dolce has said in the past that he considered surrogacy to have a child, but backed out because of his beliefs. Gabbana has said recently that he would love to be a dad if he could, but presumably he believes he can’t.

I respect that these men are living their beliefs and they are certainly entitled to their opinion, but why not just say that IVF, surrogacy or gay parenting is not for them or they wouldn’t feel comfortable with those options. We all have lines in infertility treatment or parenting that we won’t cross. There is no need to publicly disparage a lot of very real un-synthetic families. Dissing someone’s children shows a distinct lack of class.

Synthetic Kids??

It appears as if the intended target of Gabbana and Dolce’s statements were gay families, but their statement also belittled all families created through in vitro fertilization (IVF), donor egg, donor sperm, or surrogacy, regardless of the sexual orientation of the parents.

Since 1978, the miracle of fertility treatment has made possible over 5 million children…5 million living, breathing, and anything but synthetic children and adults. The conception of these children was fueled just as much by an “act of love” as children conceived naturally. It’s hard to imagine something that has been around for over 35 years being a fad. That statement alone makes me wonder just how much either man knows about assisted reproduction.

Gay Adoption

Feeling as they do about gays and lesbians adopting, I’m glad neither Dolce nor Gabbana have chosen to adopt; however, approximately 16,000 same-sex couples in the US alone have made a different choice. (International figures are harder to come by because of laws and record keeping.)

LGBT couples and singles are four times more likely to adopt in the US than heterosexual couples or singles, and six times more likely to be fostering children from state foster care systems. Four percent of all adopted children in the US are being raised by LGBTQ parents.

Many of these children would not have parents if not for being adopted by their gay or lesbian moms and dads. I venture to say that they very much believe in gay adoption.

A Moment of Cattiness

Looking at pictures from the Dolce & Gabbana Motherhood Fashion Show, I had to laugh. Nothing screams motherhood like teenage anorexic models carrying babies. Talk about unnatural!

*I was unable to find a transcript of the exact interview, so there is always the risk that these statements were taken out of context, but neither Dolce nor Gabbana have denied making these statements.

Image credit: BBC Newsbeat. To learn more about this controversy and Elton John’s campaign to boycott Dolce & Gabbana clothes, read Gabbana responds to Sir Elton’s boycott calls.

16/03/2015 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Blog, Infertility, Infertility Blog | 9 Comments



9 Responses to What’s Behind the Dolce & Gabbana “Synthetic Baby” Controversy

  1. marilynn says:

    Of course they’re wrong and human beings are not synthetic. Neither is the process that creates them synthetic; it’s still just a man and woman reproducing together – in the end they have offspring they become parents. Being abandoned by one or both of your parents hardly makes a person synthetic. Describing a person’s creation as different from the rest of the population is to say they were not created equal and therefore don’t deserve equal protection under the bill of rights. So long as it’s human beings reproducing then we are all created equal.

  2. Greg says:

    My whole issue with their comments is their choice of words. There is a way to tactfully say you don’t approve of IVF, Third Party Reproduction and Same Sex Parents. They could have easily conveyed the message w/out insulting everyone in the infertility community and most in the gay community.

  3. Anon AP says:

    Wow, that’s a lot to take in. You want to discuss process and your issues with that, fine. You start referring to human beings as “synthetic”? That’s hate.

    Also, “life has a natural process”? Either of them ever taken antibiotics? When you do that, you’re interfering with a natural life process, ya know.

    • Dawn Davenport Dawn Davenport says:

      Interesting point about antibiotics or vaccines. Hummm. I agree that I’ve got no problem with them deciding as a single gay man or member of a same sex couple, or even as an infertile couple, that IVF, or third party reproduction, is not for them. My problem is when they decide that it shouldn’t be for other people as well.

      • Anonymous IF says:

        Amen again, Dawn. Amen again!!!

      • Anon AP says:

        Absolutely! Everyone gets to choose for themselves and their families.
        They went further and didn’t only make judgments for others about the process of creating a family, but also started throwing insulting labels at the children themselves. That’s just totally unacceptable. “Children of chemicals” and “synthetic children”? Yuck.

  4. Anonymous IF says:

    Thank you, Dawn, for this article. I was appalled to hear these comments when I first heard about Elton John’s boycott. Not that I care how a pair of frivolous fashion designers care about how others choose to build their families, but FYI children who are conceived via IVF or through other forms of ART or 3rd party reproduction are conceived with just as much love as those who are conceived through the traditional ways. It takes a lot more love to stand by and hold your partner’s hand as they undergo a round of IVF or IUI with donor sperm than it does to go through the motions of “traditional conception”. Some of those other, more approved conceptions are a result of lust rather than love-but I digress.
    Love between the partners is there in ART, and love for their intended and much hoped for children is definitely there-people wouldn’t go through these procedures if they didn’t love one another and want to share their love with the children conceived through these non-traditional means
    I agree with you 100% that considering how D&G feel about same sex marriage and parenthood it’s a good thing that they didn’t choose it for themselves. The only thing “synthetic” in this whole scenario is the claims of humanity that these two men presume that they have.
    P.S. Your comment about the “anorexic teenagers promoting parenthood along with their designer clothes made me giggle. Thanks for that 🙂

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