Canada’s first Chick-fil-A opens to protests over owner’s record on gay issues

Demonstrators point to company funding anti-LGBTQ programs and CEO’s opposition to same-sex marriage

In this Oct. 30, 2018 file photo, Athens newest Chick-fil-A signage is set to open in downtown, Athens, Ga. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP

Dozens of protesters crowded a downtown Toronto sidewalk Friday to oppose the opening of the first franchised Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant in Canada over the chain owner’s record on LGBTQ issues.

The protesters say the company has funded anti-LGBTQ initiatives while company chairman and CEO Dan Cathy has voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage.

“The fact that Chick-fil-A’s opening up on the streets of Toronto’s really problematic for us, given that we know the company promotes hate. It’s just unacceptable,” said Justin Khan, director of public interest and legal issues at The 519, an LGBTQ advocacy group.

He said the company gave US$1.8 million in 2017 alone to anti-LGBTQ groups, has given to conversion therapy groups, and is not welcome in Toronto.

“It’s more than just about chicken. It’s about realizing that the rhetoric of hate is entering our city.”

Wilson Yang, operator of the Chick-fil-A in Toronto, said in an emailed statement that everyone is welcome at the restaurant.

“We respect people’s right to share their opinions. Our focus is on offering a welcoming and respectful environment for our guests and team members, and we encourage people to give us a try.”

Eric Ramsay, who was waiting in the long line outside the restaurant, said he didn’t think the founder was promoting anything hateful.

“Everyone has the right to do as they want to do, and he’s not stopping that in any way,” he said.

RELATED: Chick-fil-A announces plans for Canadian expansion

The Atlanta, Ga.-based company has faced opposition in the U.S. as well, including San Antonio city council trying to stop a location from opening in the city and a New Jersey university blocking it from the campus.

Chick-fil-A says it doesn’t have a political or social agenda, and disputes the characterization of the 2017 donations. The company says it donated US$1.6 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for sports camps for inner-city youth, a group that is overtly against gay marriage, as well as US$150,000 to the Salvation Army, which has also been accused of discrimination.

The company previously opened a location at the Calgary International Airport that has since closed, but the company says the Toronto location is the first franchised restaurant in Canada. The company says the restaurant will be closed on Sundays, in line with its policy for U.S. restaurants.

Chick-fil-A announced last year that Toronto would be the site of its first international restaurant, with plans to open at least 15 restaurants in the Greater Toronto Area in next five years.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters protest police action in Victoria

Protesters say at least 14 were arrested by police overnight

High-rise hotel proposed for downtown Victoria location

A 15-storey hotel could be coming to the Fort and Blanshard streets area

Restrictions on unrelated occupants dominates Saanich council meeting

Saanich council sends issue of unrelated occupancy limits to public hearing

University of Victoria tells stories of Holocaust survivors with graphic novels

International storytelling initiative launched first meetings this winter

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals among the most ticketed on the Island

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Horgan unveils B.C. cabinet shuffle changes

Premier John Horgan has made three major changes to his cabinet

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

B.C.’s first ride-hailing app to launch in Tofino, Whistler in February

The Whistle! app will be available in Tofino on Feb.1 and in Whistler Feb. 6.

Councillor resigns in Revelstoke after colleagues approved 67% raise

Council approved a 134 per cent raise for the mayor of Revelstoke

Rolled-over dairy truck in Abbotsford lost 40,000 litres of milk

Truck removed Sunday, Jan. 19, with specialized equipment to upright vehicle

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. premier talks forestry, service needs with handful of northern mayors in Prince George

Prince George meeting completes premier’s tour of Kitimat, Terrace, Fort St. James and Quesnel

Most Read