Despite a crowd of pro-LGBTQ protesters storming Chick-fil-A’s first-ever international grand opening on Friday in Toronto, Canada, fans of America’s favorite fast food chain lined up for hours to be the first to be served the famous chicken sandwich at a franchised location outside the United States.
Toronto – which was named the third-most LGBTQ-friendly city in the world – stirred up quite a bit of controversy over the fast food giant’s inaugural opening abroad.
“LGBTQ activists … argued that the chicken-centric chain owner’s historically antigay policies will clash will clash with the culture of Canada’s largest city,” Fox News reported. “On Sept. 6, protestors caused a commotion as soon as the restaurant opened its doors at 10:30 a.m., chanting shouts of ‘shame’ and ‘cluck you.’”
Welcomed and spurned
In the midst of adoring Chick-fil-A fans waiting in line for hours to be a part of the Christian-owned chain’s first international franchise venture, the local LGBTQ activist organization, The 519, headed up efforts to send the message it is not welcomed – complete with chants and signs reading “Chick-fil-A is full of homophobia.”
“Hey hey, ho ho, Homophobia’s got to go,” activists yelled in a video tweeted by BlogTo.
Even though Chick-fil-A has always openly embraced all customers – including the LGBTQ community – into all of its locations, activists have regularly protested America’s third-largest fast food chain – behind only McDonald’s and Starbucks – because of its CEO’s (Dan Cathy’s) support of “the biblical definition of the family unit.”
Protesters often refer to Cathy’s stand for God’s design on marriage.
“We are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,’” Cathy argued when speaking about his convictions rooted in biblical morality years ago.
The 519’s Justin Khan claimed that Toronto is only open to businesses that support the LGBTQ agenda.
“We won’t allow hateful rhetoric to be here,” Khan told CBC. “The fact that Chick-fil-A is opening on the streets of Toronto is something that is quite alarming.”
First opening its doors over half a century ago in 1967, Chick-fil-A has upheld its biblical values and closes every Sunday to honor the Sabbath, but the franchise maintains it is not in business to push a political or social agenda – just to honor God and serve His people with love and hospitality.
However, its donations to Christian organizations also touting biblical morality have also brought it under fire.
“The company says that in 2017, it donated $1.6 million to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes – a group that is overtly against gay marriage – for sports camps for inner-city youth,” Fox News’ Janine Puhak recounted. “It also donated $150,000 to the Salvation Army, which has also been accused of discrimination. That same year, the chain asked its franchisees to not make public statements on political issues.”
In addition to opposition waged by those touting the homosexual agenda, it was reported by BlogTo that animal rights activists staged a “die-in” honoring chickens in protest of Chick-fil-A’s alleged mistreatment of animals.
Encouraged by the huge turnout and undeterred by the protests, Chick-fil-A’s Toronto franchise owner Wilson Yang is confident about Chick-fil-A’s new presence north of the border.
“We respect people’s right to share their opinions and want all Torontonians to know they are welcome at Chick-fil-A Yonge & Bloor,” Yang expressed to CBC. “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.”
Many had reportedly already been lined up in front of Chick-fil-A’s new store by 6:30 a.m. Friday.
“We’re excited to see many guests already in line this morning in anticipation of opening our doors,” a spokesman for the restaurant told CTV News Toronto.
Toronto is just the first of 15 franchise restaurants slated to open within the next five years in the greater Toronto area, according to Fox.
Even though Chick-fil-A sold sandwiches in Calgary, Canada, a while back, it was not considered a franchise operation.
“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,” Puhak pointed out.
And despite the progressive cultural climate of Toronto and its left-leaning protesters, Chick-fil-A has many devout supporters, including Amanda Luciano, who jumped into line at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday night in anticipation of the morning opening.
“I’ve always wanted to try it, and the fact that it’s opening in Toronto, I’m so excited,” Luciano said to CBC News – undeterred by the ongoing controversy. “It’s not going to bother me – it’s not going to change my opinion or my views.”