The owner of a Subway franchise in the French city of Angers has received heavy criticism for refusing to offer a Valentine’s Day special offer to gay couples.

Referring to current French legislation hoping to legalise equal marriage, but which has not yet become law, the owner defended his decision not to offer the sandwich deal to gay couples.

Earlier this week, the French “Marriage for All” bill was adopted 329 votes to 229, at the National Assembly. The bill will now go to France’s Sénat on 2 April. The bill is expected to pass at the Sénat, which houses a Socialist majority.

The shop’s owner said: “Discrimination: No, the marriage for all law has advanced, but has yet to be ratified by the Senate. Until then, I’ll use my freedom of expression.”

Leaflets containing details of the offer stated specifically that only straight couples were eligible.

French newspaper, the Liberation, reported that Subway’s corporate offices had intervened following pictures of the offer being circulated widely using social media, and the Subway franchise was closed on Friday.

Subway France also apologised for the incident, and noted that management at each branch work independently, as the company operates as a franchise.

The company also took to its Facebook page on Saturday morning, following an influx of negative comments.

It wrote: “The SUBWAY brand is strongly committed to maintaining the values ​​of diversity and inclusiveness in its restaurants around the world and does not endorse in any discrimination of any kind.

“We apologize to all those people who felt offended by the individual promotional initiative for Valentine’s Day of a restaurant in Angers, France.”

A second Subway franchise in the city felt the effects of the controversy, as it received many negative comments. It was forced to close its Facebook page, and issued a press release registering that it had no association with the Subway which made the straight couples exclusive offer.

Polls show a majority of French voters support marriage equality, but it has divided the country’s left and right, with lawmakers from the conservative UMP denouncing the measure.

In the US last year, a chain of chicken restaurants, Chick-fil-A was embroiled in controversy after its CEO, Dan Cathy, publicly confirmed that the company was opposed to equal marriage.

Cathy told the Baptist Press that the company was “guilty as charged”, when asked about its perceived opposition to equal marriage.