Chick-fil-A to close first UK branch after protests from LGBT campaigners

Chick-fil-A is closing down its first UK branch

Christian-owned fast food chain Chick-fil-A is shutting down its first UK branch after coming under pressure from LGBT rights campaigners.

The popular US fried chicken chain's new outlet  in Reading is to cease trading just weeks after it opened because of complaints from LGBT groups over its donations to organisations that have a traditional view of marriage. 

Chick-fil-A opened its first UK branch in The Oracle shopping centre in Reading on 10 October.  A spokesperson for the centre said that the chain's six-month pilot lease would not be extended. 

"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 spokesperson said. 

Chick-fil-A has in the past donated to organisations like The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes but said that the focus of these donations was on youth and education. 

Reading Pride has been organising regular protests outside The Oracle shopping centre and has promised to continue the protests until Chick-fil-A leaves. 

It said the shopping centre's decision not to renew the lease was "good news". 

The first Chick-fil-A was opened in 1967 in Atlanta, Georgia, by S Truett Cathy, a devout Southern Baptist, but it has retained a strong Christian ethos, being one of the few fast food outlets to stay closed on Sundays. 

This ethos is at the heart of its corporate purpose status, which says that the business exists "To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."

The fast food chain has also been the target of LGBT protests in the US.  

In June, its Manhattan outlet was vandalised during the LGBT Pride Parade in New York City. 

In 2016, New York mayor Bill de Blasio called on New Yorkers to boycott the restaurants. 

In May this year, the student government of Trinity University in Texas voted to ban Chick-fil-A food from its campus because of its track record on LGBT issues. 

"Chick-fil-a donated 1.8 million dollars to anti-LGBT+ organizations in 2017, such as the Paul Anderson Youth Home, the Salvation Army, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, according to their most recent available tax return," the resolution passed by the student government said.