Chick-fil-A's first UK restaurant sparks LGBT rights row

Chick-fil-A Reading restaurant
Image caption The restaurant in Reading's Oracle shopping centre opened on 10 October

LGBT campaigners are calling for a boycott of a popular US restaurant chain's first UK branch.

Chick-fil-A, the third-largest fast-food chain in the US, made its British restaurant debut last week in the Oracle shopping centre in Reading.

But campaigners say the chain supports anti-LGBT groups, and in 2012 the company's chairman sparked a US boycott when he said he opposed gay marriage.

Chick-fil-A said it was focused on great food and genuine hospitality.

The food chain, founded in 1967, boasts about 2,400 outlets in the US and Canada.

According to US news website Think Progress, in 2017 the Chick-fil-A Foundation donated millions of dollars to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Paul Anderson Youth Home and the US Salvation Army.

'Sum of many experiences'

Campaigners say all three organisations have a reputation of being hostile to LGBT+ rights.

Among those who would like to see the restaurant close is Jennie Rigg, former chair of the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats.

She told the BBC: "In terms of ethical shopping, I'm not going to give my money to a company that will give their money to people who want to eradicate people like me."

Chick-fil-A told the BBC: "Our 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.

" We are the sum of many experiences, but what we all have in common is a commitment to providing great food, genuine hospitality, and a welcoming environment to all of our guests."

It added that it stopped donating to the Paul Anderson Youth Home in 2017.

In a statement, the UK Salvation Army said it "strongly objected to being presented as homophobic or transphobic", adding that it had LGBT+ members and served people "without discrimination".

A statement from the Oracle said it was proud to offer an inclusive space where members of the community can come together.

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