Fast food chain Chick-fil-A opened the doors of its first location in Toronto, Canada on Friday and the grand opening was met with protests from a variety of left-wing activists.
Liberation TO, a Toronto-based organization dedicated to achieving “total nonhuman and human animal liberation” organized the demonstration in partnership with The 519, a local LGBTQ2 advocacy group.
“Chick-fil-A has a history of being anti-LGBTQ2 and donating money to oppressive organizations. They are also speciesist and use chickens for profit,” Liberation TO wrote on Facebook. “We are here to put a stop to that. We are here to end all oppression.”
The organization also requested that people donate to LGBTQ2 charities or animal sanctuaries as a form of protest, in addition to attending the event and boycotting the grand opening.
“Chick-fil-A has given millions of dollars to anti-LGBTQ2 organizations, including known hate groups and proponents of conversion therapy, and continue to do so every year,” The 519 wrote on their website.
“Many U.S. cities, campuses, and retail outlets have refused to allow Chick-fil-A to locate within their spaces, and/or have been vocal opponents of the corporation’s hateful values,” the statement continued. “Toronto and the rest of Canada need to be next in line.”
Demonstrators held signs, dressed in drag, and laid on the ground to stage a die-in outside the restaurant as hundreds of customers waited in long lines to get their meals.
The 519 handed out signs that said “Cluck off” and other homemade signs read “dead body with a side of homophobia” and “not in our city, unite against hate.”
Customers began lining up as early as 6:30 a.m., four hours before the doors opened, to be served at the chicken chain’s newest location, reported CTV News Toronto.
As customers exited the restaurant, protesters chanted “shame, shame, shame.”
Charles McVety, a Canadian Christian evangelical leader, urged the individuals who are attending Saturday’s pre-planned “Jesus in the City” parade to show support for Chick-fil-A during the event.
“It’s upsetting that people want to stop a business simply because it adheres to Christian values. The business is only about chicken. It should only be about chicken,” McVety told CTV News. “It should not happen in Canada, if you just want to get chicken, you shouldn’t be shamed.”
“We have sympathy for the gay community, we love the gay community, bu we would never commend anyone for shouting people down,” he continued. “This is school yard bullying tactics and we are against bullying.”
Chick-fil-A donated nearly $2 million in 2017 to the christian organizations Salvation Army, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home. And while Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy revealed his belief in the “biblical definition of a family unit,” the restaurant does not discriminate against any customer based on religious or sexual beliefs.
“We’re excited to see many guests already in line this morning in anticipation of opening our doors,” a spokesperson for Chick-fil-A told CTV News. “We respect people’s rights to share their opinions and want all Torontonians to know they are welcome … 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.”