Google has removed a so-called “gay conversion” app developed by Living Hope Ministries, a Texas-based Christian organization that tries to convince gay people that they can live as straight people with enough prayer and religious therapy. For months, the company dug in its heels refusing to remove the app which has already been dropped by Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft.
“After consulting with outside advocacy groups, reviewing our policies, and making sure we had a thorough understanding of the app and its relation to conversion therapy, we’ve decided to remove it from the Play Store, consistent with other app stores,” a Google spokesperson told Gizmodo over email.
The decision comes after the Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest LGBTQ rights organization, revoked its endorsement of Google this week over the tech giant’s reluctance to remove the app from the Google Play Store. The group released its 2019 Corporate Equality Index on March 28 and didn’t include Google this year. The tech giant has previously received a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign.
“We applaud Google for making the right decision to pull this app from their online store,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin told Gizmodo in an email. “So-called conversion therapy is a debunked practice that’s tantamount to child abuse and is proven to have dangerous consequences for its victims. Google and other platforms that have pulled this app are taking an important step to protect LGBTQ youth.”
Living Hope Ministries claims that its advocacy doesn’t engage in gay conversion therapy or conduct services of “pray the gay away.” The organization insisted in a blog post addressed to Apple in January that it provides a “safe space for people who struggle with SSA,” the acronym used in some far-right religious communities for what they call “same-sex attraction.”
Testimonials on the group’s website include endorsements from Christians who believe that their homosexuality is something that they should be ashamed of. It’s depressing, to say the least:
In 2004 I had an affair with a woman after having been married for 14 years. I thought I had gotten past this lifestyle, but have since realized I got married because I thought it was the right thing to do. LHM has helped heal the brokenness in my life, which in turn has helped me grow my relationship with God and my husband.
Organizations like Living Hope Ministries are simply spreading pain and shame by insisting that gay, lesbian, and trans people are people who need to be fixed. At least Living Hope Ministries won’t be able to spread its garbage ideology of hate on the Google Play Store anymore.