New South Wales LGBTIQ organisation ACON has called on Google to remove an “extremely damaging” app from its online store that promotes harmful “gay conversion” practices.
Living Hope Ministries, the US-based Christian organisation behind the app, refers to gay and transgender people as “sexually broken” individuals and claims the “gay lifestyle is spiritually and physically harmful”.
The app advises LGBTIQ people to “seek out a Christian therapist who has a redemptive perspective on homosexuality” to “recover” from being attracted to members of the same sex.
“Accept that you will need to separate yourself from the connection to the gay lifestyle,” material accessible on the app reads.
“Pictures, mementos, anything that connects you to your past is a propped-open door to the bondage of emotional and sexual sin.”
One article on the app suggests finding a counselor who has a “biblical understanding that homosexuality is changeable through the power of Jesus Christ.”
The app came to light after campaigning by activist group Truth Wins Out and was pulled from the online stores of Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon but remains in Google’s Play Store.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph this month, acting ACON CEO Karen Price said Google was ignoring its social responsibility as “any form of conversion practice” could have a long-lasting negative effect on vulnerable people.
“Google is powerful and pervasive, and with that power and presence comes a responsibility,” she said.
“It is disappointing to learn that Google has stepped back from its long-stated corporate philosophy ‘Don’t be evil’.
“This is concerning given their access to data and the privileges they enjoy globally. Clearly Apple, Microsoft and Amazon recognise this responsibility, and are not peddling this ineffective and extremely damaging application.
“It is hard to overstate how vulnerable LGBTI people are to these harmful, manipulative practices which, in the stories of many survivors, have had, and continue to have, deep and long-term consequences for their health.”
Google’s Play Store policy states the company doesn’t allow apps that “incite hatred against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, age, nationality, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or any other characteristic that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization.”
“Gay conversion” practices refer to any attempt to change or suppress an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity using psychological or spiritual means, and have been condemned as harmful by the United Nations and peak psychology bodies around the world.
Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said “gay conversion” therapy “simply doesn’t work” and vulnerable users should be protected from messages about “changing” their sexual orientation.
“Promoting the idea that people who are same-sex attracted are broken and can be cured is profoundly damaging and just plain wrong,” Ms Brown said.
At the Midsumma Pride March last weekend, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews blasted the practices as “bigoted quackery” and said the state’s government would draft laws to outlaw it.