Thursday, 17 March 2011

Controversy over "gay conversion" app for iPhone

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The Exodus app depicted on
an iPhone screen
A petition has been launched to encourage Apple to remove an app from the evangelical "gay conversion" organisation Exodus International from its online store. Exodus describes itself as "dedicated to equipping and uniting agencies and individuals to effectively communicate the message of freedom from homosexuality" and maintains that the "reorientation of same sex attraction is possible". It says the app, through which people can access "current news, information and resources" will allow it to "reach a broader demographic and readily provide information that is crucial for many seeking hope and encouragement".

The petition, begun by Truth Wins Out, "a non-profit organization that fights anti-gay religious extremism", calls on Apple to stop supporting the app, which it rated as "4+" on account of containing "no objectionable content", and had received almost 6,800 signatures at the time of writing. The petition letter is addressed directly to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and reads:
"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 (despite the fact that this form of "therapy" has been roundly condemned by every major professional medical organization), and targets vulnerable, suicide-prone LGBT youth with the message that their sexual orientation is a "sin that will make your heart sick" and a "counterfeit," contributing to and legitimizing the ostracism of these youth from their families.

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. This is unacceptable, and I urge you to take a strong stance against homophobia by removing this dangerous "ex-gay" iPhone app from the store."
As this piece points out, Apple has previously removed apps following protests from users, so it will be interesting to see if it acts on this petition.

What do you think?

[Found via Tom Chivers and Patrick Strudwick on Twitter]
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