Metro Weekly

LGBTQ protests force first British Chick-fil-A to close

A six-month lease will not be renewed after English activists protested company's anti-LGBTQ values

Photo: Tdorante10, via Wikimedia.

Chick-fil-A’s foray into the British fast food market will end after just six months, following protests over the company’s anti-LGBTQ donations.

The fried chicken purveyor opened its first store on Oct. 10 in Reading, England, as part of a pilot program in the country.

But controversy surrounding the company’s anti-LGBTQ donations and Chick-fil-A owner Dan Cathy’s anti-LGBTQ religious beliefs will bring the trial to an early end.

RelatedChick-fil-A won’t stop donating to anti-LGBTQ groups, says it’s part of a “higher calling”

The Oracle shopping center, in which the new store was based, has announced that it will not be extending Chick-fil-A’s six-month lease due to ongoing protests and calls for boycotts, the BBC reports.

“We always look to introduce new concepts for our customers, however, we have decided on this occasion that the right thing to do is to only allow Chick-Fil-A to trade with us for the initial six-month pilot period, and not to extend the lease any further,” The Oracle said in a statement.

LGBTQ organization Reading Pride — which spearheaded the protests — said the mall’s decision was “good news,” as it allowed time for employees to find other work.

However, it said it would continue to protest the restaurant in the months before it closes, saying Chick-fil-A’s “ethos and moral stance goes completely against our values, and that of the UK as we are a progressive country that has legalized same-sex marriage for some years and continues to strive towards equality.”

Chick-fil-A has come under fire for donations to organizations that oppose LGBTQ rights, including almost $2 million in 2017 — $1.2 million of which went to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a religious organization that requires its members to adhere to a “sexual purity” policy that outlaws “homosexual acts.”

Earlier this year, the fast food chain says it has no plans to stop the donations, arguing that its funding of discriminatory groups is part of a “higher calling.”

In a statement to the BBC, Chick-fil-A said its charitable giving “has always focused on youth and education. We have never donated with the purpose of supporting a social or political agenda.”

“There are 145,000 people — black, white; gay, straight; Christian, non-Christian — who represent Chick-fil-A.”

The company did not say if it was planning to try again in a different location after the Reading store has closed.

Related:

New Orleans principal refuses free Chick-fil-A to support LGBTQ staff and students

Texas governor mocked LGBTQ community with staged signing of discriminatory “Save Chick-fil-A” bill

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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