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Apple bashes 'gay cure' app

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Apple appears to have bowed to pressure from gay rights groups, and withdrawn a controversial "gay cure" app sponsored by Exodus International, an evangelical Christian group claiming to be "the world’s largest ministry to individuals and families impacted by homosexuality".

This followed a battle between competing petitions, with the petition calling for the app’s removal (organised by Truth Wins Out) yesterday afternoon passing the 150,000 signature mark. Meanwhile, a petition in favour of retaining it is stuck with just eight signatures total.

It does look very much as though Apple have gazed into the abyss and, faced with a choice between offending evangelicals and offending the gay lobby, and many of its customers, have opted to go the former route. We are unable to confirm this officially as, despite attempting to elicit a response from Apple since the beginning of this affair last week, we have yet to hear back from them.

However, Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr was reported in the Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune as saying: "We removed the Exodus International app from the App Store because it violates our developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people."

The app originally went up for sale on 15 February, graded as a "4+" – suggesting that Apple considered it to contain no objectionable content. This was hotly contested by those organising the anti-app petition, who declared it "unacceptable", and warned Apple: "Your company would never allow a racist or antisemitic 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."

Exodus International hit back. In a statement reported in gay rights online newspaper Pink News, a spokesman for that group accused campaigners of trying to "stigmatise" them and denied they were trying to "cure" gay people. All that they were attempting to do, they claimed, was to provide Apple users with "a useful resource for men, women, parents, students and ministry leaders" to "reconcile their faith with their sexual behaviour".

President of Exodus International and author of Leaving Homosexuality Alan Chambers was reported yesterday as tweeting: "It's official. Incredibly disappointing. Watch out, it could happen to you."

It seems likely that the last straw was the accusation, made earlier this week, by Dr Gary Remafedi, director of the Youth and Aids Projects, and specialist in adolescent medicine, that Exodus had distorted his research into homosexuality.

He wrote to Apple requesting that they drop the app, saying that it "erroneously cites my research in support of claims that homosexuality can be changed ... Associating my work with that of the ex-gay ministry and other unfounded treatments is professionally injurious and grievous." ®

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