Rights groups up in arms over anti-gay app

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Apple's coming under fire from gay rights groups over an app that claims to be able to 'cure' homosexuality.

The app is produced by Floridan anti-gay group Exodus International, which claims to 'address the issue of homosexuality with grace and truth'. It's aimed at 'curing' homosexuals by telling them God disapproves.

Its website includes such graceful statements as 'homosexuality is associated with dysfunctional family structures' and truths such as'homosexual expression [is] outside of God’s will'.

The app is offered free through the iTunes shop and has been given a 4+ rating by Apple, meaning that it's not believed to contain any objectionable content.

But gay rights groups beg to differ. A petition set up by Change.org demanding that Apple pull the app has already gathered over 80,000 signatures.

"If Apple does not respond, we will take steps to ensure that Apple meets the victims of ‘ex-gay’ ministries and learns how their lives were destroyed," said Truth Wins Out’s executive director Wayne Besen.

"It is astounding that Apple would allow an app from an organization that promotes gay exorcisms, demonizes LGBT people, and is rejected by every respected mental health association in America."

Apple's app guidelines promise to remove apps that are 'defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harm's way'.

In the past, it's shown itself to live up to these standards, last year pulling an app called 'Manhattan Declaration' which encouraged users to oppose gay marriage.

As change.org points out, these attitudes can cost lives. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, found that LGBT teens who experienced negative feedback from their family were eight times more likely to have attempted suicide.

But they're all heart at Exodus International. "Suicide for any reason is always a tragedy," they say.