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New Highland fast food outlet Chick-fil-A caught in storm of firm's anti-LGBT funding

By Alasdair Fraser

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Chick-fil-A in Aviemore.
Chick-fil-A in Aviemore.

A US fast food chain slated for funding anti-LGBT rights groups is under fresh attack after "very quietly" opening an Aviemore outlet – it’s first in Scotland.

Chick-fil-A’s first UK branch, in Reading, came under fire after opening last month with reports it might close.

Now the Highland LGBT Forum has raised concerns about the latest opening at the MacDonald Aviemore Resort just over three weeks ago.

Forum representative Sand Owsnett said: "Obviously there are people that work there and we want to take the workforce into account.

“We are not advocating that people protest in order for people to lose their jobs. What we are doing is raising awareness of the fact there is a restaurant chain here in the area that has very fundamental beliefs against us.

"Thank you to everyone who has been in touch to let us know about [the] branch opening very quietly three weeks ago at the Macdonald Aviemore Resort.

"We know that some have already written to the hotel, and our chair is working on our letter too and we'll share their reply once we receive it.”

Chick-fil-A, which owns 2400 outlets in the US, insists it is focused only on food and hospitality, with no social or political agenda.

For years the Baptist Christian owners of the food chain have given millions of dollars to anti-LGBT organisations, leading to protests, boycotts and several new US branches being blocked from opening.

The US fast food chain was apparently to close its first branch in the UK after protests and boycott calls by LGBT campaigners, international media reported this week.

On Sunday, Los Angeles' Eyewitness News broadcast: "London – Chick-fil-A has announced it will be closing its first restaurant in the United Kingdom within six months, nine days after it opened.

"This comes after an LGBTQ group held protests outside the brand-new restaurant inside a mall in Reading."

The British national press were quick to pick it up: "Chick-fil-A faced demands to 'cluck off' when the fried chicken outlet opened in a shopping mall in Reading this month.

"Reading Pride, which organised protests outside the restaurant, said the chain’s 'ethos and moral stance goes completely against our values, and that of the UK as we are a progressive country that has legalised same-sex marriage for some years and continues to strive towards equality'.

"The Christian owners of Chick-fil-A, which has about 2,400 outlets in the US, have made donations to organisations opposed to same-sex relationships and marriage equality. They include Exodus International, which offered gay 'conversion therapy' before it closed down in 2013 and apologised to gay people for 'years of undue judgment by the organisation and the Christian church as a whole' and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which opposes same-sex marriage."

The outlet opened at Macdonald Highland Resort without fanfare and the resort had nothing to say about the opening when the Strathy approached them on Tuesday.

It was in 2012 that the American controversy arose, when Chick-fil-A's chief executive officer, Dan Cathy, confirmed: “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit.

"We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that … We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families.”

Eight days after Chick-fil-A opened in Reading, the Oracle shopping mall announced it would not extend the chain’s initial six-month lease.

But Reading Pride said its protests at the outlet would continue until its closure.

Chick-fil-A opened its first diner in Atlanta, Georgia in 1946, and claims to be “the largest chicken quick-service restaurant chain in America”.

Its founder, Truett Cathy, developed a “business philosophy based on biblical principles”, according to the company’s website. Its outlets are closed on Sundays.

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