After weeks of harsh criticism and debate, Apple has finally removed the “anti-gay” iPhone pp from Exodus International that promised to “cure” gay people. The app was available in the Apple iTunes App Store until yesterday. Truth Wins Out, non-profit organization that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism and the “ex-gay” myth, and Change.org, a platform for social change, partnered together to creat a petition for the app’s removal. After collecting over 146,00 signatures, and by generating buzz about this app in mainstream media, the app from Exodus was dumped from Apple.
“Apple made a wise and responsible decision to dump an offensive app that demonized gay and lesbian people,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “The real winners today are LGBT youth who are safer and less at risk for receiving Exodus’ malice and misinformation.”
“We’re thrilled that Apple has removed this ‘gay cure’ app from the iTunes store after more than 146,000 people signed this petition,” said Mike Jones, Editor at Change.org, the platform used by Truth Wins Out to launch the petition. “The message Apple is sending here is clear: there is no place for ‘ex-gay therapy’ on the Apple platform.”
Exodus’ app was not only offensive, but it relied on twisting legitimate research in its effort to dehumanize LGBT people. For example, Gary Remafedi, a researcher from the University of Minnesota, asked Apple earlier in the week to remove Exodus International’s app from its online store because he claimed it grossly distorted his work.
What is especially interesting about the removal of this app from Exodus International is that this app was ever approved in the first place. The app had been given a rating of four stars, which meant it passed Apple’s test and contained “no objectionable material.” Clearly, however, the app was objectionable on several ethical levels. It is almost ironic that while Apple prohibits scandalous apps from the store, such as pornographic material, Apple approves this app, which promoted hate speech and similar attitudes.
Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International believes this is an issue of freedom of speech and comes down to “what we, as a culture, believe about equality and the freedom to express our beliefs”. He said, “It is our hope that Apple will reconsider its decision and allow our organization to be part of the ongoing conversation about the challenging issues many face today.”
Perhaps Chamber just needs to find an app for the challenging issues he needs to cope with. That, or realize he’s facing a losing game – only 61 million people in the U.S. use a smartphone, and only 26% of apps are ever used more than once. If Chamber’s app ever does get approved again, there will unlikely be any impact on any “conversation” (whether legitimate or otherwise) – especially since the only buzz about the app was due to related controversy. Now that the app has been removed by Apple, his 15 minutes of fame are gone, too.