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Conversion Therapy App Fuels Outrage

Apple, Amazon pull the app, but Google hasn’t budged

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An app promoting so-called “conversion therapy” has been booted from Apple — and later from Amazon — amid public outcry, but Google is under fire for continuing to host the app.

The Texas-based Living Hope Ministries, which preaches “a Biblical world-view of sexual expression rooted in one man and one woman in a committed, monogamous, heterosexual marriage for life,” still has an app on the Google app stores despite a petition by Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit organization that targets anti-gay religious extremism.

Conversion therapy, the name given to a practice of psychotherapy and counseling geared toward changing a person’s sexual orientation, has been deemed harmful — especially for children — and is opposed by the American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and countless other professional groups.

Yet, the ministry says it offers “support” for “Youth/ Young Adults.”

The ministry describes its online forum as “the largest, world-wide online support groups for men, women, families and friends impacted by same sex attraction.”

The ministry’s website notes that its founder — who is unnamed — was “secretly wrestling with questions of faith and sexuality.” The ministry states that sexual “struggles” are impacted by a “relational wounding” and are “restored” through relationships “rooted in obedience to Christ.”

A 25-year-old man named Steven wrote in a testimony on the site that he “came to Living Hope in August of 2013 in an attempt to make sense of my unwanted same-sex attraction.”

Living Hope Ministries could not be reached for comment on the app or its role in practicing anti-gay therapy.

Conversion therapy carried out by licensed therapeutic professionals on minors has become illegal in many areas of the United States, including New York City, where only two city lawmakers — Brooklyn Councilmembers Chaim Deutsch and David Greenfield — voted against a ban last year. Bronx Councilmember Andy King abstained from the vote for what he said were “religious reasons,” according to The Brooklyn Daily, a sister publication to Gay City News.

New York State does not yet ban conversion therapy on minors, but with the recent election of a Democratic State Senate advocates for queer youth are upbeat about the prospects for prohibiting the practice.

Prior to Amazon pulling the app, it drew a slew of negative comments on its store, including one from a person who identified as a licensed psychotherapist and said “conversion therapy is not accepted as ethical.” Another commenter said the app is “absolutely disgusting” and “should be removed and this ‘ministry’ labeled as a hate group.”

Many users also left negative reviews on the Google app store. One a man named James Nelson wrote that “the app promotes hatred and denigration of homosexuality. HAD TO UNISTALL!”

Gay City News did not receive a response from Google regarding the future status of the app on its platform.

Updated 7:03 pm, January 2, 2019
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