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

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

Loki’s Car Club hosting its first annual holiday toy drive. File photo.
Loki’s Car Club hosting its first annual holiday toy drive

Local Wetaskiwin businesses set up as toy drive drop off locations.

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta now has 17,743 active cases of COVID-19

Province now has 17,743 active cases

A home on Montana First Nation was damaged by fire in the early hours on Dec. 2, 2020. (Chevi Rabbit/Submitted)
House fires on Montana Cree Nation under investigation

Two separate fires took place in the early hours of Dec. 2

File photo
City of Wetaskiwin launches Whistle-blower Program

Whistle-blower program acts as anonymous forum to hold local government accountable

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council squashes mask bylaw

The bylaw did not make it past first reading, after a 4-3 vote defeated the motion

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Most Read