Apple is today accused of anti-gay discrimination, following the release of an iPhone app that aims to help people find “freedom from homosexuality”.
A petition has been launched by Truth Wins Out, which describes itself as a non-profit organisation that fights anti-gay religious extremism on the change.org website, asking Steve Jobs to intervene to remove the app. The app is the work of the Exodus International ministry.
In a letter which those supporting their petition sign up to receive, they write: "Apple has long been a friend of the LGBT community, opposing California's Proposition 8, removing the anti-gay Manhattan Declaration iPhone app, and earning a 100% score from the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index.
"I am shocked that this same company has given the green light to an app from a notoriously anti-gay organization like Exodus International that uses scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients, endorses the use of so-called 'reparative therapy' to 'change' the sexual orientation of their clients."
According to TWO, "reparative therapy" has been roundly condemned by every major professional medical organisation. The petition launched last week and has already attracted some 17,000 signatures: however, as word of the app spreads, the rate at which individuals are signing up appears to be snowballing.
Exodus International claims to be "the world’s largest ministry to individuals and families impacted by homosexuality". On its site, Exodus states that it "upholds heterosexuality as God’s creative intent for humanity, and subsequently views homosexual expression as outside of God’s will".
Their new smartphone app was released last week and is "now available through iTunes". According to Exodus, this app has received a 4+ rating from Apple and "applications in this category contain no objectionable material". They conclude: "This application is designed to be a useful resource for men, women, parents, students, and ministry leaders."
TWO are unimpressed. Describing the app as "unacceptable", and requesting its immediate removal, they warn Apple: "Your company would never allow a racist or anti-Semitic app to be sold in the iTunes store, and for good reason. Apple's approval of the anti-gay Exodus International app represents a double standard for the LGBT community with potentially devastating consequences for our youth."
We have asked Apple whether it intends to take any action in respect of this app, but so far have received no response.
Unfortunately for Apple, it may shortly have to choose between offending its Christian base and its gay base. Both have significant spending power, and we suspect this is an issue it would rather just went away.
However, when faced with a similar issue last November, after an app was created around the Manhattan Declaration which is hostile to gay marriage, Apple came down on the side of gay rights and removed the app. ®