A petition launched in a bid to prevent the UK’s first Chick-fil-A branch from closing is gathering momentum.
The restaurant, located in The Oracle Mall in Reading, had been open for barely a week when officials announced they would be terminating the company’s lease. The decision came following intense pressure from the LGBT community, who take issue with Chich-fil-A’s Christian heritage and the faith-based charitable organizations it donates to.
But the matter might not be over just yet. A new petition launched by those seeking to save the restaurant and reverse the decision is gathering momentum and, as of writing, has garnered almost 14,000 signatures.
“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,” the CitizenGo petition reads.
“As a company who are guided by Christian ethics, Chick-Fil-A pay their staff above market rates, offer enhanced employee Terms and Conditions and close on Sundays to give all staff a day with their families and friends.”
The document adds that it “is not the role of a commercial landlord to police the corporate values or religious beliefs of their tenants” and that “no company is compelled to engage in any type of philanthropic activity.”
“It is entirely up to individuals and corporations to decide which organizations best reflect their values,” it adds.
“Chick Fil-A are doing nothing illegal or immoral. We should not allow the aggressive LGBT lobby to prevent a company from being able to run a business simply because they are Christian. To do so runs contrary to the UK’s values of freedom and tolerance.”
In a statement on their decision to terminate Chick-fil-A’s lease, The Oracle said 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,” before noting that it seeks to “offer an inclusive space where everyone is welcome.”
Though Chick-fil-A has been frustrated in its bid to expand into England, news broke yesterday of an additional outlet opening further up north, in the Scottish highlands. Despite criticism from the LGBT forum over the launch, a spokesperson for the luxury Macdonald Aviemore Resort insisted that the restaurant was “proving extremely popular,” according to the BBC.
Chick-fil-A has continued to defend its equal treatment of people, regardless of their sexuality.
“We hope our guests 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,” they said following the Reading controversy.
“We are represented by more than 145,000 people from different backgrounds and beliefs, and we welcome everyone.”
And so, Chick-fil-A’s fight for a UK-based franchise continues.