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US fast-food chain Chick-fil-A has changed its charitable giving policies, which had been criticised by LGBT activists.

The restaurant company has faced protests over its opposition to same-sex marriage, including donations to campaign groups.

It said its giving would now focus on education, homelessness and hunger.

The firm did not explain the decision, except to say it wanted to offer “more clarity” about its donations.

As a result, it will no longer give money to two organisations – the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and the Salvation Army – that have come in for criticism over their policies on homosexuality.

The controversy began in 2012 following comments by chief executive Dan Cathy against same-sex marriage.

Since then, politicians and activists in Boston, New York and other cities have spoken out or proposed to ban the family-owned company, which operates about 2,400 outlets across North America.

Mr Cathy has said previously that he regrets taking a public stance on same-sex marriage, though he has not recanted his view, which he tied to his Christian faith.

Last month, the landlord of the chain’s first UK outpost, in Reading, said it would not renew the shop’s lease after a protest by LGBT rights campaigners.

‘Saddened’

Chick-fil-A has already stopped donations to a slew of groups that campaign against same-sex marriage.

In 2018, the Chick-fil-A foundation donated $1.65m to the FCA and $115,000 to the Salvation Army.

The FCA asks participants to adhere to a sexual purity policy that bans homosexual relations and sex outside marriage. It did not respond to a request for comment.

The Salvation Army said it was “saddened” to learn of Chick-fil-A’s decision and disputed the claim that its policies are hostile to the LGBT community.

“We serve more than 23 million individuals a year, including those in the LGBTQ+ community,” the charity said. “We… greatly appreciate those partners and donors who ensure that anyone who needs our help feels safe and comfortable to come through our doors.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who had supported Chick-fil-A during earlier controversies, said the company’s changes sent a clear message.

“They surrendered to anti-Christian hate groups” in a bid for more money, he wrote on Twitter.

Chick-fil-A did not elaborate on the decision to stop funding the two groups, except to say that its charitable arm had fulfilled multi-year commitments to both groups that ended in 2018.

The company said both faith-based and non-faith-based organisations would be eligible for future donations.

GLAAD, a gay rights group that has campaigned against the chain, said the announcement should be greeted with “cautious optimism”.

However, it said it remained concerned about ties between the Cathy family’s private foundation and Focus on the Family, which opposes same-sex marriage. The chain also still lacks policies to ensure a safe workplace for LGBT staff, it said.

“Chick-fil-A … should unequivocally speak out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents,” said Drew Anderson, GLAAD’s director of campaigns and rapid response.



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