Google has caved to public pressure and removed a Christian “conversion therapy” app that advises lesbian and gay youth to try change their sexual orientation from its app store.
The move by Google to dump the app, created by Living Hope Ministries, came after an intense four-month pressure campaign, led by the US-based organisation Truth Wins Out (TWO).
This included a Change.org petition that gathered more than 142,000 signatures and a call by a number of lawmakers and other organisatons such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) demanding that Google act with corporate integrity and responsibility.
The final straw was when HRC this week suspended Google from its Corporate Equality Index which rates companies according to their LGBTQ inclusion. Apple, Amazon and Microsoft had earlier blocked the app but Google had stubbornly refused to remove it.
“We are delighted that Google finally backed down and deleted a dangerous app that targeted LGBTQ youth with toxic messages of guilt and shame,” commented Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen.
The app claims that homosexuality is an “addiction,” “sickness,” and “sin” and that it “can help homosexuals leave their destructive lifestyles.”
“It is still unfathomable why Google stubbornly defended the indefensible for months, when the hateful and destructive content in this app should have been self-evident. We hope this sends a powerful message that ‘pray away the gay’ products are unacceptable and have no place in a decent and civilized society,” said Besen.
A Google spokesperson told Axios: “After consulting with outside advocacy groups, reviewing our policies, and making sure we had a thorough understanding of the app and its relation to conversion therapy, we’ve decided to remove it from the Play Store, consistent with other app stores.”
The HRC applauded Google on Twitter “for making the right decision to pull this from their online store, an important step to protect LGBTQ youth.”
The World Psychiatric Association and many other mental health bodies have asserted that trying to “cure” LGBTQ people doesn’t work and is both dangerous and unethical. In April 2018, the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) reaffirmed its condemnation of so called ‘conversion therapy’.