A petition launched in protest against the opening of an outpost of controversial US chicken chain Chick-fil-A at the Macdonald Aviemore Resort in Scotland has gathered over 1,000 signatures.
The restaurant was the second to open under the brand in the UK, although the first site at the Oracle shopping centre in Reading faces an uncertain future after the landlord there blocked an extension to its lease beyond the initial six months following protests from LGBT+ groups.
The chain, founded in 1946 and based on “biblical principles”, has previously been subject to a boycott in the US after chief executive Dan Cathy, son of founder Truett Cathy, expressed controversial views about same-sex marriage to a radio programme in 2012. He said: “We’re inviting God’s judgement on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you what constitutes a marriage.”
The petition against the Aviemore restaurant, launched by Scott Cuthbertson on change.org, accused Chick-fil-A of funding “several anti-LGBT organisations and causes” and called on Macdonald “not to support people who fund groups opposed to LGBT equality”. So far, it has received 1,119 signatures.
But a Chick-fil-A spokesperson said that the “sole focus” of the Chick-fil-A Foundation, which gave $9.9m in donations to communities across America in 2017, was to support causes “focused on youth and education”.
The spokesperson added: “To suggest our giving was done to support a political or non-inclusive agenda is inaccurate and misleading”.
In a statement, they said: “We hope our guests in the UK will see that Chick-fil-A is a restaurant company focused on serving great food and hospitality and does not have a social or political agenda. We are represented by more than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs, and we welcome everyone.”
The firm added that a counter-petition on the citizengo.org calling for the Reading restaurant to remain open has now received nearly 21,000 signatures. The petition states: “This is an attack on religious freedom. Chick-Fil-A are not in breach of any UK employment laws and do not discriminate against any of their customers therefore there is no good reason why this popular restaurant cannot be allowed to remain open.”
A spokesperson for Macdonald Aviemore Resort, whose restaurant closes on a Sunday like its US counterparts in keeping with the brand’s religious values, said: “Chick-fil-A is an enormously successful business, with over 2,400 restaurants in the US, and we are pleased to have them invest in the Aviemore economy, where the restaurant is proving extremely popular.
“It’s vital to underline that, in both our recruitment and our customer care, we treat everyone with respect, regardless of race, religion, sexuality or gender.”