That was fast!
After just eight days in business, the U.K.’s first Chick-fil-A will lose its lease over the company’s history of anti-LGBTQ+ donations. According to the BBC, the restaurant was set for a six-month trial run at a mall in Reading — about 40 miles outside London — which generated immediate backlash from local LGBTQ+ groups.
Reading Pride pledged to boycott the location if it stayed in business, calling attention to the millions Chick-fil-A has donated to organizations like the Salvation Army and Focus on the Family.
In response, the mall made the decision not to allow Chick-fil-A to renew its lease.
“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,” representatives claimed in a statement.
The location’s last day in operation will be April 10.
Chick-fil-A just opened its first location in the United Kingdom, prompting controversy among locals who are none too thrilled with the organization’s track record of donations to anti-LGBTQ+ groups.
The fast food chain’s new outpost was unveiled in the far west London suburb of Reading on October 10, as Berkshire Live first reported. Some locals took to social media to express their anger, with some pledging to boycott the chain, though the opposing views didn’t seem to stop others from saying they’ll continue to frequent the restaurant.
In the days following Chick-fil-A’s opening in the U.K., a company spokesperson said they were “represented by more than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs and welcome everyone.”
That wasn’t enough for locals who could read between the lines.
“You do know just how blatantly homophobic they are?” one local wrote in response to a Facebook post by Berkshire Live. “I’m ashamed of all involved in allowing this to happen, honestly. Utterly unacceptable.”
The company’s anti-LGBTQ+ political stances date back at least to 2012, when CEO Dan Cathy said in a controversial interview with Baptist Press he believes in the “biblical definition of the family unit” and that marriage is between one man and one woman, Those positions haven’t changed in the years since.
During a May interview with Business Insider, the company’s vice president of corporate social responsibility said Chick-fil-A has a “higher calling” in contributing its money to anti-LGBTQ+ organizations.
“The calling for us is to ensure that we are relevant and impactful in the community, and that we’re helping children and that we’re helping them to be everything that they can be,” said Rodney Bullard, who is also the executive director of the Chick-fil-A Foundation. “This is really about an authentic problem that is on the ground, that is present and ever present in the lives of many children who can’t help themselves.”
A March report from ThinkProgress shows it has continued to make good on its pledge to fund anti-LGBTQ+ hate — citing 2017 tax filings that showed Chick-fil-A donated more than $1.8 million to anti-equality groups that year.
As Out has previously reported, those reports sparked continued calls to boycott the chain and calls for businesses to cut ties with Chick-fil-A.
The San Jose city council passed an April resolution to decorate Chick-fil-A’s location at the Mineta-San Jose International Airport with rainbow pride and transgender pride flags and called upon the company to hire LGBTQ+ employees. And this summer a minor league baseball team in New York cancelled a partnership with the company after pressure from local LGBTQ+ groups.
In addition, the chain’s new Toronto location was met with protests from picketers telling the chain to “Cluck Off,” while students and faculty at the University of Kansas called for Chick-fil-A to banned from its campus.
It’s unclear whether the U.K. location has been met with any physical demonstrations.