Apple removes ‘gay cure’ app from App Store

23 Mar 2011

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A controversial app that made its way onto the Apple App Store has been pulled by the company after more than 146,000 signatures were collected in a petition addressed to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

The app was put on the store by the religious organisation Exodus International, a group that ostensibly aims to convert people from being gay through prayer and therapy.

Apple initially approved the free app for the iPhone and iPad and gave it a four-star rating, meaning the app was not considered to contain objectionable content. It had been available on the store since 15 February.

However, last night Apple removed the app after a petition set up by rights group Change.org attracted 146,000 signatures.

The Exodus International app aimed to combat ‘same-sex attraction’ and provide a resource for men, women, parents, students and ministry leaders. However, Change.org warned that the iPhone app was the latest move in Exodus’ dangerous new strategy of targeting youth.

“In light of the recent wave of LGBT youth suicides, this tactic is particularly galling as it creates, legitimises and fuels the ostracism of LGBT youth by their families.”

Vulnerability of LGBT teens

Change.org pointed to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics which suggests LGBT teens who experienced negative feedback from their family were eight times more likely to have attempted suicide, six times as vulnerable to severe depression, and three times more likely to use drugs.

“Apple’s app guidelines released in September last year detailed rules on how the company decides what can and cannot be sold through its store: ‘Any app that is defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harm’s way will be rejected,’ the company states.

“Apple doesn’t allow racist or anti-Semitic apps in its app store, yet it is giving the green light to an app targeting vulnerable LGBT youth with the message that their sexual orientation is a ‘sin that will make your heart sick’ and a ‘counterfeit.’ This is a double standard that has the potential for devastating consequences,” Change.org railed.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com