THE community of Basingstoke is being encouraged to join a protest at a nearby town where a controversial chicken restaurant with links to charities which oppose LGBT rights has opened.

American chain Chick-fil-A opened its first branch in the UK in The Oracle in Reading, on October 11, but a huge protest is being organised to boycott the venue this Saturday, after its chief operating officer opposed same-sex marriage in 2012.

It has also reportedly donated more than £1.8 million to anti-LGBT charities.


Martin Cooper, the CEO of Reading Pride, has organised the boycott at 11am on Saturday in an attempt to have the Reading restaurant closed, and prevent the chain opening further restaurants in other areas of the UK.

Speaking to the Gazette in a message to the Basingstoke community, he said: “We have support from many prides across the country. We have some representatives attending from many too. Weston Super Mare Pride, Pride in Surrey, Oxford Pride, Newbury Pride, Pride Cymru to name a few. The message is clear, if they are successful in Reading, they will set up in other towns and cities, profiting and sharing the profits to anti LGBT+ charities. If that’s not what you want, show solidarity by attending our protest.”

Basingstoke Gazette: The American restaurant has opened its first UK store in ReadingThe American restaurant has opened its first UK store in Reading

He described the restaurant as “abhorrent” adding: “What we have here is a restaurant owned by a family that has very backwards beliefs that actively promote anti LGBT charities.”

He is planning to contact the local Basingstoke pride group to make them aware of the protest.

In a statement issued by Chick-fil-A, 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 the third largest American fast-food restaurant chain, opening its first restaurant in 1967 and now has 2,300 mostly in the US.