Apple Under Fire for ‘Gay Cure’ iPhone App

Apple has come under fire for approving an ‘Gay Cure’ app that offers guidance on how homosexual people can be “cured” and convert to heterosexuality.

More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Apple to remove an app from the iTunes store that was created by an anti-gay Christian organization. Photo: Flickr

Apple’s in hot water after approving an iPhone app from a religious ministry, Exodus International, which believes in teaching “freedom from homosexuality through prayer and practicing conversion therapy”.

A petition has been launched by Truth Wins Out, which describes itself as a non-profit organisation that fights anti-gay religious extremism on the website, asking Steve Jobs’ company to intervene to remove the app.

In a letter which those supporting their petition sign up to receive, they write: “Apple has long been a friend of the LGBT community, opposing California’s Proposition 8, removing the anti-gay Manhattan Declaration iPhone app, and earning a 100% score from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

“I am shocked that this same company has given the green light to an app from a notoriously anti-gay organization like Exodus International that uses scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients, endorses the use of so-called ‘reparative therapy’ to ‘change’ the sexual orientation of their clients.”

According to Truth Wins Out, “reparative therapy” has been roundly condemned by every major professional medical organisation. The petition launched last week and has already attracted some 17,000 signatures: however, as word of the app spreads, the rate at which individuals are signing up appears to be snowballing.

Exodus International claims to be “the world’s largest ministry to individuals and families impacted by homosexuality”. On its site, Exodus states that it “upholds heterosexuality as God’s creative intent for humanity, and subsequently views homosexual expression as outside of God’s will”.

Their new smartphone app was released last week and is “now available through iTunes”. According to Exodus, this app has received a 4+ rating from Apple and “applications in this category contain no objectionable material”. They conclude: “This application is designed to be a useful resource for men, women, parents, students, and ministry leaders.”

Truth Wins Out are unimpressed. “No objectionable content? We beg to differ,” according to the petition.  “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 life to recruit clients.”

Describing the app as “unacceptable”, and requesting its immediate removal, they warn Apple: “Your company would never allow a racist or anti-Semitic app to be sold in the iTunes store, and for good reason.

Apple’s approval of the anti-gay Exodus International app represents a double standard for the LGBT community with potentially devastating consequences for our youth.”

The ‘Gay Cure’ iPhone App is like a portable version of Exodus International’s website. It has a calendar of events, news, links to Exodus’s social media sites and videos. Those items, like corresponding features of its website, reflect its anti-gay message — in particular its belief that someone can be counseled away from homosexuality.

Unfortunately for Apple, it may shortly have to chose between offending its Christian base and its gay base. Both have significant spending power, and we, here at TheBlogIsMine, suspect this is an issue it would rather just went away.

The App received 85 five-star reviews – the highest rating – from App Store users, but it also received nearly twice as many one-star reviews. “What a shameful, deceptive app,” wrote one user. “Disgusting.”

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network posted March 15, Exodus International’s Jeff Buchanan said the ministry had not yet had any direct contact with Apple regarding the app.

Apple’s approval of the app is particularly noteworthy given that the company requires all apps submitted to the App Store be scrutinized and vetted by Apple itself. Last year, the company removed, without warning, thousands of “sexy” apps from its App Store.

Earlier this year, Apple was criticized for its approval of an application from the Manhattan Declaration, which encouraged users to take a stand against gay marriage. Apple later removed the app.

Do you think Apple should remove the app from its App Store? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below. [via The Telegraph (UK) and Mashable]

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