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Apple has pulled a religious app that was accused of promoting conversion therapy as well as falsely portraying homosexuality as an “addiction” and “sin” after a gay-rights advocacy group petitioned for its removal.
According to the petition from Truth Wins Out, the free app developed by the Texas-based Living Hope Ministries delivered toxic messages that portrayed homosexuality as an addiction and LGBT people as sick, sinful, and broken while also encouraging users “to change from gay-to-straight through prayer and therapy.”
“It’s difficult to believe that Apple would allow its online store to be used as a platform to promote such dangerous, homophobic garbage,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen.
A day after the petition was launched the app was removed from Apple’s online store, drawing praise from the advocacy group.
“We thank Apple for exemplifying corporate responsibility and taking swift action to remove a dangerous app that stigmatizes and demeans LGBT people,” said Besen in a petition update.
“Ex-gay programs are consumer fraud and cause significant harm to the people they purport to help.”
Living Hope Ministries executive director Ricky Chelette however, disputes the claims by stating that their non-profit organization serves “those who are seeking sexual and relational wholeness through a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.”
“We help people understand who they are in Christ,” Chelette told NBC News. “We only help those individuals who are seeking us.”
According to their website, Living Hope Ministries is the largest, worldwide online support groups for men, women, families and friends impacted by same-sex attraction. The organization “proclaims a Christ-centered, Biblical world-view of sexual expression rooted in one man and one woman in a committed, monogamous, heterosexual marriage for life. Anything less than this ideal falls short of God’s best for humanity.”
Chelette told NBC that Apple did not inform them in advance about the removal of the app and plans to dispute the decision.
“I think it’s unfortunate that the advocacy group doesn’t know what we do and is assuming that we’re some hate organization. We are not,” Chelette said. “We love gay-identified individuals.”
Truth Wins Out is also urging Google and Amazon to remove what Besen calls the “pray away the gay” app from their online stores. “Every minute this heinous product is available on these platforms, the potential exists for it to harm LGBT youth,” said Besen.
“We demand that Google and Amazon immediately stop selling and promoting this app, which dehumanizes LGBT people.”
At the time of writing, Apple has yet to release a statement regarding their decision to remove the app. Neither Google nor Amazon has returned requests for comments.