Google has come under fire for continuing to feature an app accused of promoting harmful “gay conversion” therapy in the company’s Play Store.
Living Hope Ministries, the US-based creator of the app, refers to gay and transgender people as “sexually broken” individuals and the “gay lifestyle is spiritually and physically harmful”.
The app gives users access to various podcasts, articles and other material promoting harmful “gay conversion” messages.
The app instructs those seeking a “recovery from same-sex attractions” to “seek out a Christian therapist who has a redemptive perspective on homosexuality,” and “abstain from physically acting out, engaging in sexual fantasy, pornography and masturbation,” Newsweek reported.
One article on the app suggests finding a counselor who has a “biblical understanding that homosexuality is changeable through the power of Jesus Christ.”
A Change.org petition started by LGBTIQ activist group Truth Wins Out calling on Google to scrap the “dangerous” app has attracted more than 40,000 signatures.
“Every moment that this app remains at Google’s online store, vulnerable LGBT teenagers can download it, so time is of the essence,” the petition states.
“The surprising silence from Google is in stark contrast with the corporation’s stated policies of inclusion, respect and diversity.
“So why hasn’t the company taken action?”
The same app was removed by Apple from the company’s App Store in December.
Truth Wins Out executive director Wayne Besen said Google should follow the lead of other tech companies and do the same.
“It is unconscionable that Google is still offering an online platform to an organization that seeks to marginalize and stigmatize LGBT people,” Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen said.
“It’s time for Google to join Apple, Microsoft and Amazon to delete this hateful and dangerous app that promotes prejudice and fosters discrimination.”
Living Hope Ministries executive director defended the app, telling Newsweek the organisation wants “to help those who don’t want to be gay.”
But “gay conversion” or “ex-gay” therapies have been widely discredited and condemned as dangerous by numerous bodies around the world including the United Nations, the Australian Psychological Society, and peak psychology bodies in the US and the UK.
A report released last year documented the long-term harm the therapies had done to Australia survivors.
Google’s Play Store policy states it 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.”
Last year, Facebook was slammed for allowing advertisers to target young queer people with harmful “gay conversion” advertisements through the use of microtargeting.