The American fast-food chain Chick-fil-A made its UK debut in the Oracle this month and within days was faced with uproar over this new arrival. Opening on October 10th, the chain was faced with the wrath of LGBT+ rights campaigners who led a protest on Saturday, October 19th, yet by this point the Oracle had already announced that the lease would not be extended beyond the 6–month pilot period. The Oracle announced that this was “the right thing to do” in not extending their lease.
The fast food chain company owners have been known to donate towards anti-LGBT rights groups. These include but are not limited to The National Christian Foundation that sent a preacher to Uganda to assist in the ‘kill the gays’ bill that was attempting to be passed, as well as Christian conversion therapy (a pseudoscientific practice of trying to change an individual’s sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual).
Reading Pride have advertised these sources of information across many of their social media platforms, and include Business Insider, CBS News, as well as coverage of the protest by the BBC and other American news platforms.
The protest, which saw over 60 people outside the Oracle, including Sum Ting Wong (a contestant on the first UK series of Ru Paul’s Drag Race), university students and those who are a part of Reading Pride, went ahead despite the knowledge that Chick-Fil-A would be closing. This was to raise awareness of what this brand and company is known for and to boycott it as a result. Much of their argument and campaign consisted of the reality that the UK is a progressive country and that there is no place here for such homophobic companies. They are looking towards the company being removed from Reading, and, ultimately, the UK.
The outrage that this has caused has even hit the news in America.
A boycott was sparked in the US back in 2012 when the company’s chairman said he himself was opposed to gay marriage. Dan T. Cathy, the company’s chairman and chief executive, also stated in 2012 that Chick-fil-A believed in the “biblical definition of the family unit”. These Christian Fundamentalist views have now spread across the pond, and the people of Reading are trying to fight against this and Chick-fil-A’s intentions of becoming international.
They also lost out on two potential airport contracts in the USA after their local politicians raised similar concerns over the anti-LGBT+ history that the company has. It is very clear that the issues people have with this company are not just localised to Reading, but spread across the pond too.
The group’s Kirsten Bayes told protesters: “Companies like this have no place here in Reading and they have no place anywhere.
“We are standing in solidarity with campaigners across the United States… for justice and freedom for LGBT people.”
Reading Labour councillor Sarah Hacker said: “We can make sure that they don’t spread their hatred across the UK.”