Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Apple Yanks Exodus "Ex-Gay" App

Apple quietly removed an iPhone/iPad app created by "ex-gay" group Exodus International from its iTunes online store after over 150,000 people signed a petition complaining about it.

The creators of the petition are a Vermont think tank called Truth Wins Out, a name deliberately similar to "Love Won Out," the name of an ex-gay "ministry" created by Focus on the Family and later sold to Exodus International, creators of the now-removed app.

Truth Wins Out cites a document called "Just the Facts" crafted by the nation's leading mental health and educational bodies (including the American Psychological Association and the National Education Association) that condemns "ex-gay" therapy as misleading and generally harmful. It points out that Apple's policy is to reject racist or bigoted content, and questions a double standard. Among other complainants is Dr. Gary Remafedi, a professor of sexuality at the University of Minnesota, who told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on Wednesday that Exodus misquoted his research to make its case that homosexuality is an adolescent phase that can be arrested with therapy.

In a November blog post, TWO quotes an Exodus statement in which the group states it will target young people (beginning in middle school) with its message that sexual orientation is a choice which can be influenced through prayer. Given the rash of highly-publicized suicides of gay or gay-perceived youth who were victims of bullying last fall (which Exodus has tacitly acknowledged its programs "might" encourage), TWO seeks to educate the public about what goes on at these "ministries". In a series of videos within the same blog post, ex-clients report being placed in close contact with sex offenders and being asked intimate questions about their anatomy by counselors.

Patrick McAlvey was also an Exodus client at the age of 19. He visited Exodus’ Lansing affiliate Corduroy Stone where he was counseled by Mike Jones. During counseling, McAlvey was asked about the size of his member and made to engage in erotic cuddling. He spoke out about the experience in a Truth Wins Out video

Apple cited the same logic for removal as a previous incident involving an app called "The Manhattan Project" arguing against same-sex-marriage, which Apple stated would "offend a large segment of the public." That petition only required 7,000 signatures to get Apple to change its mind.

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