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Parliamentary hopeful in Reading is calling for Chick-fil-A to stay despite homophobic legacy

Josh Milton November 15, 2019
Dozens protested outside a shopping centre in Reading, the site of the UK's first Chick-fil-A store. (Martin Cooper)

Dozens protested outside a shopping centre in Reading, the site of the UK's first Chick-fil-A store. (Martin Cooper)

A UK parliamentary hopeful in Reading is calling for the city’s Chick-fil-A to stay open despite the chain’s well-documented anti-LGBT donations.

Christian People’s Alliance candidate Yemi Awolola is riding a campaign based on restoring “traditional families” and battling tax-dodging corporations.

But a few weeks before announcing his plan to run in the general elections, Awolola set-up a petition to stop the Baptist fast-food chain from closing.

It comes after weeks of protests and petitioning from LGBT+ activists against Chick-fil-A’s first UK branch in shopping mall The Oracle lead to owners not extending its lease beyond the first six months.

Christian candidate ‘excited’ Chick-fil-A opened in Reading.

Vying for the Reading East top seat are a cluster of six potential lawmakers from the major parties as well as the CPA.

And the CDA candidate is a Christian campaigning to keep Chick-fil-A in Reading shutter-free.

Awolola wrote in the petition that he was “excited” to hear the company was opening its doors to Reading locals.

But weary of a high-street dotted by shutters and boarded-up businesses, he wants to keep Chick-fil-A open in the mall.

He feels its closure is “pandering to LGBT agenda.”

Moreover, he said the boycotts and protests had “nothing to do with the company but” were an “attack on anything Christians [sic].

“We cannot and will not let a minority with hidden agenda deprive us of what we need the most in Reading right now, more businesses,” he wrote.

What are the Christian Peoples Alliance?

Since 1999, the CPA have peddled campaigns fronted on re-infusing politics with core Christian beliefs.

Members were deeply involved in the campaign against marriage equality in 2013.

No parliamentary campaigns have ever been successful, however. Although, the CPA have scored some local government council elections.

The party’s pitched policies in 2017 were predominantly anti-abortion, anti-marriage equality and were hard on the topic of Brexit.

Christian Peoples Alliance candidate Yemi Awolola's candidacy is propose by five central policies. (Christian People's Alliance)
Christian Peoples Alliance candidate Yemi Awolola’s candidacy is propose by five central policies. (Christian People’s Alliance)

In Awolola’s campaign, he is hoping to encourage voters to tick his name in polling stations for his ‘Support Marriage and the Family’ pledge.

It involves newly-wed couples receiving a grant of £12,000, “provided they go to at least five marriage preparation classes” as well as £6,000 going into the pockets of heterosexual couples when their “first child is born.

“No other party will address this issue,” Awolola wrote in campaign documents.

These are both slick increases from the party’s previous pledge on the issue, being £10,000 and £5,000 respectively, according to their 2017 manifesto.

Chick-fil-A has a long history of supporting anti-LGBT+ causes.

In 2013, it was reported that the chain’s anti-LGBT+ donations had almost doubled. The Chick-fil-A Foundation donated almost $3 million to an anti-marriage equality organisation in 2011.

In 2012, Chick-fil-A boss Dan Cathy confirmed that the chain is against same-sex marriage. He later said he regretted getting the company entangled in controversy surrounding LGBT+ rights, but said his views had not changed.

“The bottom line is we have a responsibility here to keep the whole of the organisation in mind and it has to take precedence over the personal expression and opinion on social issues,” he said.

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