Thursday 18 January 2018

Apple blocks ‘gay conversion’ app after complaints

The app runs on Apple's iOS devices, including the iPod touch. Photo: Getty Images
The app runs on Apple's iOS devices, including the iPod touch. Photo: Getty Images

Shane Richmond

Apple has blocked a controversial app that offered guidance on how to ‘cure’ homosexuality, after thousands of complaints.

The app was created by and named after Exodus International, a religious organisation which teaches “freedom from homosexuality through prayer and practicing conversion therapy”.

It had been offered free in Apple’s iTunes App Store since February 15 but was removed from the store yesterday.

Apple said in a statement: “We removed the Exodus International app from the App Store because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.”

More than 150,000 people signed an online petition at calling for the app to be removed. The petition, written by think tank Truth Wins Out, noted that 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’”.

The most prominent founders of Exodus were gay men who claimed to have changed their “lifestyle”.

Last year, co-founder Michael Bussee apologised for his role in the Florida-based group and said he had never seen an Exodus member become permanently heterosexual.

Earlier this week Dr Gary Remafedi, professor of pediatrics and director of the youth and Aids projects at the University of Minnesota, wrote to Apple to say that the app misrepresented his research. He told Apple that being associated with Exodus was “professionally injurious and grievous”.

Apple maintains a strict vetting process on apps that go in to the App Store and has frequently removed apps that are deemed to be offensive.

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