Chick-Fil-A's First UK Outlet To Close In 6 Months Following LGBTQ Protests

The Oracle, a British shopping center, announced last week it would not extend the fast food chain's six-month lease.

The U.K.鈥檚 first Chick-fil-A has announced it will close following backlash against the fast food chain鈥檚 history of donations to anti-LGBTQ groups.

The Oracle, a shopping center located in Reading, England, decided not to extend Chick-fil-A鈥檚 lease beyond a six-month pilot period, a spokesperson for the mall told the BBC Oct. 18.

鈥淲e always look to introduce new concepts for our customers,鈥 the spokesperson said. 鈥淗owever, 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.鈥

The Oracle had been hit with protests from a number of LGBTQ rights groups since the Chick-Fil-A franchise鈥檚 Oct. 10 opening.

Last week, Reading Pride released a lengthy statement on Twitter outlining its opposition to the restaurant chain, pointing out the American company鈥檚 acknowledged financial support of organizations with a history of LGBTQ discrimination.

鈥淭he chain鈥檚 ethos and moral stance goes completely against our values, and that of the U.K. as we are a progressive country that has legalized same-sex marriage for some years, and continues to strive towards equality,鈥 the group said in the statement, which can be viewed below.

On Saturday, the U.K. Pride Network and Newbury Pride shared photos and video showing LGBTQ rights advocates protesting against the restaurant just outside The Oracle鈥檚 entrance.

In one photo, a group carried a rainbow placard that read, 鈥淕ET THE CHICK OUT. Say NO to bigotry and hatred on your High Street.鈥

Chick-fil-A said in a statement sent to The New York Times and The Washington Post that the company had planned to keep the Reading location open only for a limited time.

鈥淲e have been very pleased with the lines since opening Oct. 10 and are grateful for customer response to our food and our approach to customer service,鈥 the company said in the statement on Saturday. 鈥淲e mutually agreed to a six-month lease with the Oracle Mall in Reading as part of a longer term strategy for us as we look to expand our international presence.鈥

Chick-fil-A added that it was 鈥渁lways looking and learning, and do so through pop-up locations,鈥 but had no plans to share.

Chick-fil-A has taken heat over its acknowledged financial support of anti-LGBTQ organizations for years. At one point, recipients of the chain鈥檚 contributions reportedly included Exodus International and the Family Research Council.

The company鈥檚 billionaire CEO, Dan Cathy, stoked outrage when asked about those donations in 2012, acknowledging his franchise鈥檚 鈥渟upport of the traditional family鈥 in an interview.

Since then, Chick-fil-A has made repeated attempts to stem the backlash by pledging not to 鈥渉ave a political or social agenda.鈥

However, the fast food chain鈥檚 2017 tax documents 鈥 obtained by ThinkProgress in March 鈥 found that the company had donated $9.9 million to charity, of which roughly $1.8 million went to groups known to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

Rodney Bullard, leader of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, dismissed the criticism in a Business Insider interview published in May, saying the company鈥檚 donations were aimed at serving low-income and underprivileged children and 鈥渞elevant and impactful to the community.鈥

鈥淔or us, that鈥檚 a much higher calling than any political or cultural war that鈥檚 being waged,鈥 said Bullard, the company鈥檚 vice president of corporate social responsibility and the executive director of the company鈥檚 charitable foundation. 鈥淭his 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鈥檛 help themselves.鈥

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