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Apple criticized for allowing iPhone 'gay cure' app

Exodus International

Apple is under fire for approving an app that encourages "the freedom to grow into heterosexuality" for those who are gay or transgender, and an online petition campaign to pull the app has garnered more than 107,000 signatures.

The app, in the Lifestyle category of the iTunes App Store, is called Exodus International, which is the name of the organization which describes itself as "the world’s largest ministry to individuals and families impacted by homosexuality. With over 35 years of ministry experience, Exodus is committed to encouraging, educating and equipping the Body of Christ to address the issue of homosexuality with grace and truth."

But it's more than that, contends social activist group Change.org, which along with Truth Wins Out, which "fights anti-gay religious extremism," is behind the petition drive against what is being dubbed the "gay cure" app.

"Exodus' message is hateful and bigoted," Change.org says. "They claim to offer 'freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ' and use scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients. 

"They endorse the use of so-called 'reparative therapy' to 'change' the sexual orientation of their clients, despite the fact that this form of 'therapy' has been rejected by every major professional medical organization including the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Counseling Association. But reparative therapy isn't just bad medicine — it's also very damaging to the self-esteem and mental health of its victims."

On Exodus International's website, the organization says it "upholds heterosexuality as God’s creative intent for humanity, and subsequently views homosexual expression as outside of God’s will. Exodus cites homosexual tendencies as one of many conditions that beset fallen humanity. Choosing to resolve these tendencies through homosexual behavior, taking on a homosexual identity, and involvement in a homosexual lifestyle is considered destructive, as it distorts God’s intent for the individual and is therefore sinful."

While Change.org can't change what Exodus International believes or promotes, it does want Apple to pull the app, which was posted in the App Store last month.

"Apple's app guidelines released in September last year detailed rules on how the company decides what can and cannot be sold through its store: 'Any app that is defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited, or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harms way will be rejected,' the company states," says Change.org:

Apple doesn't allow racist or anti-Semitic apps in its app store, yet it is giving the green light to an app targeting vulnerable LGBT youth with the message that their sexual orientation is a 'sin that will make your heart sick' and a 'counterfeit.' This is a double standard that has the potential for devastating consequences.

Apple needs to be told, loud and clear, that this is unacceptable. Stand with Truth Wins Out — demand that the iTunes store stop supporting homophobia and remove the Exodus app.

Apple is not commenting so far. But Change.org has had success in this area before.

A similar kind of program, the "Manhattan Declaration" app, by a group that condemns same-sex unions, was yanked from the App Store last year after receiving petitions initiated by Change.org, saying that app was offensive.

Late last year, Apple pulled the pro-heterosexual marriage app from the App Store for the iPhone, with the group calling Jobs "Big Brother," and releasing a video that portrays Apple's CEO as sinister as Kim Jong-il.

More about controversy in Apple's App Store:

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