First UK Chick-fil-A branch to close after LGBT group backlash
First UK branch of US chicken chain Chick-fil-A will close after backlash over its owner's anti-LGBT stance
- LGBT groups rail against franchise owner who opposed gay marriage in 2012
- The first UK branch of Chick-fil-A in Reading will now close in six months time
- Reading Pride to keep protesting near the shopping centre until the store closes
The first UK branch of a popular American chicken restaurant is set to close following a backlash over its owner's stance on LGBT rights.
Chick-fil-A opened its first branch of the fast-food chain in Reading just days ago on October 10, but it was revealed that the outlet is set to close in just six months.
The opening in the Oracle shopping centre prompted harsh criticism from LGBT groups as the founder's son opposed gay marriage seven years ago in 2012.
Both chief executive Dan Cathy and his late father Samual, who founded the chain in 1946, have publically made donations towards anti-LGBT+ groups.
After Mr Cathy Jr publicly opposed same-sex marriage in 2012, LGBT people began a series of boycotts, kiss-ins and same-sex marriages outside the restaurants across the US.
Samuel Cathy used Chick-fil-A profits to fund charities including Exodus International, a group which promoted gay and transgender conversion therapy.
His son has also been accused of recently providing 1.9 million US dollars (£1.4 million) to the charity Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which opposes same-sex relationships.
After Chick-fil-A announced its plans for its Reading branch, the decision was condemned by LGBT rights groups across the UK.
Reading Pride said: 'The chain's ethos and moral stance goes completely against our values, and that of the UK as we are a progressive country that has legalised same-sex marriage for some years and continues to strive towards equality.'
The group organised protests against the restaurant and called for a boycott of the company.
On Friday, the Oracle announced that it would not extend Chick-fil-A's initial six-month lease.
A statement from the Oracle said: '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.'
Reading Pride said it still plans to hold a protest this morning despite the announcement and will continue to protest against the restaurant until it closes in six months' time.
The restaurant has denied the future closure is related in any way to Mr Cathy's views on LGBT rights or charity donations.
A Chick-fil-A spokesperson told the PA news agency: 'We have been very pleased with what we've seen in the UK in terms of customer response to our food and our approach to customer service.
'We mutually agreed to a six-month lease with the Oracle in Reading as part of a longer-term strategy for us as we look to build a permanent presence in the UK.'
Chick-fil-A did not respond to further requests for comment.
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