- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
- Google is being criticized for allowing an app on its Google Play Store that promotes the controversial practice of gay conversion therapy.
- LGBTQ+ advocates say the religious group behind the app has incited hate against the queer community, and “casually trashes LGBT people as living ‘destructive lifestyles.'”
- An online petition calling for the app to be removed has garnered almost 40,000 signatures.
- The same app was already removed from Apple’s app store in December.
Google is facing criticism over an app in its Play Store that promotes gay conversion therapy.
An online petition calling on Google to remove the app has received almost 40,000 signatures since it surfaced a week ago on Change.org. The LGBTQ+ advocacy group behind the petition, Truth Wins Out, says the app “casually trashes LGBT people as living ‘destructive lifestyles,'” which goes against Google’s “stated policies of inclusion, respect and diversity.”
The app, from the religious group Living Home Ministries, was already removed from Apple’s App store in December after Truth Wins Out created a similar online petition to plead its case. But while Apple reacted “swiftly” to kick the app from its store, Google has been dragging its feet, Truth Wins Out says.
“By any standard, the app is awful. It brazenly compares homosexuality to an addiction,” the petition reads. “Every moment that this app remains at Google’s online store, vulnerable LGBT teenagers can download it, so time is of the essence.”
Google’s policy for its Google Play Store states it doesn’t allows 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.”
Google did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. The app has been available in Google’s Play Store since 2014, and has been downloaded more than 1,000 times, the app store data shows.
The religious nonprofit behind the app, Living Hope Ministries, describes itself as adhering to “a Christ-centered, Biblical world-view of sexual expression rooted in one man and one woman in a committed, monogamous, heterosexual marriage for life.” The organization promotes this belief through support groups, counseling, and education that counter the rise of “homosexuality, gender confusion, and sexual and relational brokenness.”
Living Hope Ministries said in a statement to the Telegraph that Truth Wins Out claims’ were “inaccurate” and “not descriptive” of the services the organization offers.
Gay conversion therapy, like Living Hope Ministries’ “ex-gay” program, has been widely criticized for its negative effects on the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals. The American Psychiatric Association has warned against efforts to “mischaracterize homosexuality and promote the notion that sexual orientation can be changed.”
Research has shown that LGBTQ+ individuals who went through gay conversion therapy are 63% more likely to have attempted suicide. Nonetheless, almost 700,000 Americans have received conversion therapy, according to a study from UCLA’s School of Law in January 2018.
The realities and negative effects of gay conversion therapy were brought center stage in 2018 with the release of two popular movies – “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” and “Boy Erased.” The author of the memoir “Boy Erased”, Garrard Conley, also helped to produce a podcast from WNYC that tells the stories of LGBTQ+ individuals who have experienced gay conversion therapy.