Apple has come under fire for approving an application on its Apps Store by the religious organisation Exodus International that ostensibly aims to convert people from being gay through prayer and therapy.
Apple approved the free app for the iPhone and iPad and gave it a four-star rating, meaning the app is not considered to contain objectionable content.
A petition set up by rights group Change.org has already attracted more than 80,000 signatures.
“No objectionable content? We beg to differ,” Change.org’s petition read.
“Exodus’ message is hateful and bigoted. They claim to offer ‘freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ’ and use scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) life to recruit clients.
“They endorse the use of so-called ‘reparative therapy’ to ‘change’ the sexual orientation of their clients, despite the fact that this form of ‘therapy’ has been rejected by every major professional medical organisation, including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Counseling Association.
“This new iPhone app is 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.”
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.
Last year, Apple initially approved, then removed, an app from the Manhattan Declaration that encouraged users to take a stand against gay marriage.