Petition urges Apple to remove 'anti-gay' app

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

iPhone

Apple is being accused of anti-gay discrimination after it made available a free app for the iPhone and iPad that aims to help "homosexual strugglers" through bible teaching. The app was released in mid-February by Exodus International, a Christian ministry that wants to provide a "refuge for people looking for help in their journey out of homosexuality." To date, over 130,000 people have signed a petition requesting Apple to withdraw the app.

The app was developed by Exodus International. The statement on its website says, "Exodus is a Christian ministry that supports those wanting to reconcile their faith with their sexual behavior." It stresses that Apple has given the app a "4+" rating meaning it contains "no objectionable content." The app gives users "freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus", according to the group.

Truth Wins Out, a gay rights activist group that campaigns against "ex-gay" ministries encouraging people to change their sexual orientation, launched a petition on the website of change.org requesting that Apple remove the app. It accuses Exodus of using "scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients." It says Exodus is attempting to reach young people with a message that is especially "dangerous" in light of recent suicides of LGBT youth.

Wayne Besen, leader of Truth Wins Out, says the message of Exodus International constitutes hate speech.

Jeff Buchanan of Exodus International, said the app is intended to reach those that share the church's beliefs. "We are reaching those with unwanted same sex attraction," he said. "We were disappointed to see this petition. What we're asking for is fair and equal representation on the Apple platform. We see this as a religious freedom."

The issue highlights the problems Apple faces if it becomes involved in policing the content of the countless religious apps in its store, any of which has the potential to be offensive to someone. "It's an issue of tolerance," Buchanan said. "We're simply asking that we have the same opportunity to voice our message as others."

Apple is well known for strictly monitoring the content of the apps offered to users of its gadgets, and excludes sexually explicit material, offensive speech and images, and last November banned an app that entreated users to speak out against gay marriage.




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