The last Chick-fil-A remaining in the United Kingdom is shutting down after four months following protests over the chain’s history of espousing anti-gay rhetoric and donating to anti-LGBTQ hate groups.
The franchise, tucked away in a luxury hotel in the Scottish Highlands, spawned outrage nationwide when it opened.
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The fast-food chain had previously opened another location in the U.K. that closed abruptly barely a week after opening. It also spawned protests when it opened in a shopping center.
The first bisexual man elected to the Scottish Parliament, Patrick Harvie, called on the hotel chain to shut down the franchise when it opened late last year. Harvie is also co-leader of the Scottish Greens party.
He pointed out that a different location gets a lot of business from Parliament and urged his fellow legislators to pressure the chain into dropping the controversial fast-food chicken franchise.
“MSPs, as well as visiting delegations from other countries, often use their hotel on Holyrood Road, and many organizations hold briefing events there when the space inside Parliament is full,” he told The National. “So we have a special responsibility to challenge them to drop their association with this toxic U.S. company which funds campaigns to undermine LGBT+ people’s safety and human rights.”
A statement on the hotel’s website confirmed the location’s closing, describing it as a “pop-up.” When it opened, there was no indication the restaurant would be temporary.
LGBTQ activist Scott Cuthbertson started a petition when the location launched that eventually garnered over a thousand signatures urging the hotelier to dump the restaurant chain.
Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A – and current CEO’s father – donated money to anti-gay groups like the Marriage & Family Foundation, the Georgia Family Council and the ex-gay therapy group Exodus International. As recently as 2017 Chick fil-A donated $1.8 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a group that opposes same-sex marriage, and to The Salvation Army, a group with its own history of anti-LGBTQ actions.
The company has faced repercussions for its donations, getting forced out of college campuses and airports and protested in schools and in Canada. At the same time, conservatives made Chick-fil-A a symbol for their fight against LGBTQ equality.
The chain recently announced they would reconfigure their charitable-giving guidelines to exclude groups with anti-LGBTQ policies. The decision to backtrack after years of nonstop support from the religious right caused evangelical leaders and politicians to immediately attack the chain they had previously fought to defend so vociferously.