Melbourne gay newspaper bnews has dropped Gloria Jean’s advertising following reader outrage at the coffee chain’s sponsorship of allegedly anti-gay charity Mercy Ministries and links to Hillsong church.

With the current media attention that the Gloria Jean’s coffee franchise is receiving, I’m a little troubled that bnews would accept them as an advertiser, reader Ben Wilson complained.

An agency bought advertising space to promote a franchise opportunity in Daylesford -“ site of the gay and lesbian ChillOut festival -“ two weeks ago following the newspaper’s significant editorial coverage of the regional Victorian town.

We’d heard some mutterings but it broke after deadline, bnews editor Cathy Anderson said of the Sydney Morning Herald investigation of alleged homophobic treatment at the coffee chain’s sponsored charity.

[Our readers] understand where opposition to the community comes from, it’s not just conservative politicians, it’s also people in organisations and corporates like this.

This example has taught us we will need to ensure our advertisers are above board.

Anderson did not know how the newspaper, the Sydney Star Observer’s sister publication, would respond to offers from other corporate sponsors who have since distanced themselves from the charity, and admitted the links were often indirect.

For a street press paper without a cover price, do we accept this money to maintain the financial viability of the paper or do we take the moral and ethical ground? Anderson asked.

However, the allegations have been denied by the franchise. In a statement Gloria Jean’s Coffees said the company was founded on family values, but was not religiously affiliated.

The religious affiliation of our management, staff, franchise partners, charity partners has absolutely no relevance to how we operate our company, the statement by global marketing manager Alexandra Deakin read.

Our sponsorship of many international and local charities, including Mercy Ministries, is based on giving back to the communities who have helped us become the brand we are today, there are no hidden agendas.

But for some of bnews’s readers the anti-gay complicity of Gloria Jean’s was established.

I can only hope that all those who care even slightly about the political landscape they live in make a promise to themselves from now to never visit a Gloria Jean’s store again, Wilson wrote.

Starbucks is looking pretty good to me right now.

Poll: -˜We’d boycott’

A poll on this week found about 65 percent would join a boycott of Gloria Jean’s Coffees over its continued sponsorship of Mercy Ministries. Calls for such a boycott have been heard since the chain’s links to Hillsong church were raised in 2005.

Have your say: Should gay and lesbian customers hold Gloria Jean’s accountable for its sponsored charities?

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