Google removes anti-gay ‘conversion therapy’ app after pressure from LGBT+ rights groups

Tech giant drops app described as 'life-threatening to LGBT+ youth'

Ben Chapman
Friday 29 March 2019 14:26 GMT
Microsoft, Amazon and Apple had already removed the app
Microsoft, Amazon and Apple had already removed the app (Getty)

Google will remove an app that promoted “conversion therapy” from its download store after pressure from LGBT+ rights groups.

An app from Texas-based religious organisation Living Hope Ministries (LHM) purports to offer advice on “recovery from same-sex attraction”.

The app accuses gay people of living “destructive lifestyles” and likens homosexuality to an addiction.

Google had resisted taking the app down from its Play Store but changed tack shortly after the largest LGBT+ rights group in the US said it was suspending its endorsement of the tech giant.

The Human Rights Campaign said: “We have been urging Google to remove this app because it is life-threatening to LGBT+ youth and also clearly violates the company’s own standards.”

On Thursday Google responded, saying: “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.”

Microsoft, Amazon and Apple had already removed the app.

Google’s decision came less than 24 hours after HRC said it was excluding Google from its Corporate Equality Index, an annual assessment of companies’ policies and practices in support of LGBT+ employees.

The company had previously scored a perfect 100 on the index.

“Google and other platforms that have pulled this app are taking an important step to protect LGBTQ youth,” HRC president Chad Griffin said.

LHM has denied it is involved in so-called conversion therapy, a widely condemned “treatment” that some conservative and Christian groups have over the years sought to use to try and force people to change their sexuality.

Its website reads: “Living Hope Ministries hosts the largest, world-wide online support groups for men and women impacted by same sex attraction. Our online forums provide a free, safe, and moderated opportunity for accountability, encouragement and support from people who understand your struggle.”

In a recent newsletter, Mr Chelette criticised a decision by Microsoft and Apple to remove the app.

“We are a ministry that for nearly thirty years has helped individuals resolve their feelings they deem incongruent with their faith. We help people deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ,” he wrote.

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