Cupertino, California —
The controversial iPhone app that promised to "cure" homosexuality, which generated criticism and an online petition, has been pulled by Apple.
The "ex-gay" Christian group believes people have a choice to be gay and their app, which was available for free on iTunes for more than a month, was targeted to "homosexual strugglers" and linked users to the ministry's website.
The Florida-based Exodus International says it is the "world's largest worldwide ministry to those struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction" and claims to offer a "healing alternative" for gays and lesbians.
Truth Wins Out, a non-profit gay rights group, created an online petition and in a matter of days has received 149,000 signatures protesting the app.
"It is astounding that Apple would allow an app from an organization that promotes gay exorcisms, demonizes LGBT people, and is rejected by every respected mental health association in America," said Truth Wins Out's executive director Wayne Besen.
Exodus International endorses "reparative therapy," which is rejected by the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association and the American Counseling Association, to "change" the sexual orientation of their clients.
Medical professionals say "reparative therapy" can be damaging to the self-esteem and mental health of those undergoing the so-called therapy.
According to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune
, the app also faced other problems. Dr. Gary Remafedi, director of the youth and AIDS projects and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, wrote a letter to Apple on Monday saying that the app "erroneously cites my research in support of claims that homosexuality can be changed. ... Associating my work with that of the ex-gay ministry and other unfounded treatments is professionally injurious and grievous."
Remafedi asked that Apple pull the app.
The app had received a 4+ rating from Apple, signifying that that Apple did not initially consider the material offensive. This was not the first time the technology giant struggled with approving offensive apps. Last year Apple was forced to pull a previous app discouraging gay marriage.