Starbucks festive cups provoke controversy, yet again.

As the festive season descends upon is, it's time to ring in the period's traditions: ice-skating, gingerbread lattes, and trying to find fault with Starbucks' festive cup range.

Since 1997, Starbucks have released a festive collection of cups to usher in the holiday season.

Becoming a signifier of the start of the festive period, the range is often an unspoken go-ahead for Christmas jumpers and Michael Bublé's soothing Christmas ballads.

However, while most people welcome the cups' arrival, there's always at least one controversy per year, with the more conservative-minded finding fault or offence in the designs.

In recent years, Starbucks cups unwittingly became the centre of the debate concerning the role and place of religion, specifically Christianity and its associated symbols, in the festive period.

As a result, in 2015 Starbucks announced the removal of traditional holiday symbols, such as snowflakes, from it's designs, favouring a simplistic red cup instead.

The plain cup was aimed at creating an inclusive culture of 'belonging and diversity.'

However it seemed to do quite the opposite, met with an angry backlash from Christians and conservatives, who accused the brand of 'political correctness' gone mad, removing Christmas of its quintessential features.

And this year the arrival of the cup has yet again riled up conservatives, this time said to be 'pushing a gay agenda.'

That's right, people are genuinely accusing Starbucks of pushing a 'gay agenda' with this year's designs.

So what's on the cup? An LGBTQ+ couple making out? Just going at it under a Christmas tree?

No, the cup merely has a pair of non-gender specific, androgynous hands on it.

At the top of the cup a pair of hands are interlocked, but the hands have no clear gender markers.

This was combined with the British LGBTQ Awards Twitter account tweeting their approval of Starbucks' Christmas ad, which featured a diverse cast including people of colour and a lesbian couple.

As a result, a flurry of conservative critics have rained down on Starbucks for supposedly pushing a 'gay agenda.'

People called the cup 'an abomination', with others saying their inability to identify the gender of the hand holders meant they couldn't risk buying the cup.

However, many have been quick to jump to the brand's defence, praising the inclusivity and diversity of the campaign:

In a statement to Buzzfeed, Starbucks released a pretty wholesome statement, saying

"Each year during the holidays we aim to bring our customers an experience that inspires the spirit of the season, and we will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world."

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