Protesters have planned a peaceful demonstration outside the first UK Chick-fil-A restaurant, which launched in Reading this week.
Demonstrators will visit the site on Saturday, led by LGBT+ groups which have called for people to boycott the fast food outlet.
The chicken chain has long been the subject of controversy due to links with anti-LGBT activism and campaigns, as well as specific comments made by CEO Dan Cathy in 2012.
Asked about same-sex marriage by a US radio station, Cathy said: “We’re inviting God’s judgement on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.”
In response to the opening, Reading Pride UK issued the following statement: “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 legislated same sex marriage for some years and continues to strive towards equality.
“Whilst the Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy’s comments were from 2012 (Cathy was quoted as saying that he believes in the “biblical definition of the family unit”). They hired a PR company and he has not been quoted since. There is no record we can find to suggest his views have changed.”
It continued: “We respect everyone’s freedom to eat where they choose, however, we ask the LGBT+ community (including allies) to boycott the chain in Reading.”
A Chick-fil-A spokesperson 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.”
Chick-fil-A is one of the largest fast food chain in the US, with more than 2,400 outlets across 47 states. Until now, it has only opened pop-ups in the UK. This is the company’s first permanent fixture. Early signs suggest it will not do well.