Starbucks accused of waging war on Christmas with 'gay agenda'

For the third year in a row, multinational coffee house Starbucks has courted controversy with what some are referring to as a 'war on Christmas'.

After allegedly removing anything distinctly Christmas-themed from its holiday cups in both 2015 and 2016, Starbucks has this year found itself angering conservative Christians once again.

That's because, while this year's edition of the cup features Christmas trees, cards and presents, it also appears to contain a cartoon lesbian couple holding hands.

An advert produced to commemorate the cup also appears to show the women leaning in for a kiss, but the camera pans away before they make physical contact.

When the ad was shared online and lauded for its inclusion of an LGBT couple, Starbucks did not deny that was its intention.

Even when it was asked directly by media outlets, the company refused to confirm nor deny their intentions.

"This year's hand-drawn cup features scenes of celebrating with loved ones - whoever they may be," a Starbucks spokeswoman told The New York Times.

"We intentionally designed the cup so our customers can interpret it in their own way, adding their own colour and illustrations."

Scrutiny of Starbucks' holiday cups has increased since Donald Trump became US President, with the former business mogul criticising the company over them during rallies on the campaign trail.