Apple removes anti-gay iPhone app

Screenshots from the Exodus International iPhone app, which came down today.
Screenshots from the Exodus International iPhone app, which came down today.

Word just arrived that Apple has removed an iPhone app that critics call anti-gay. Exodus International, a Christian nonprofit, created the app, which directs users to websites offering information on "recovering" from homosexuality.

The info also cites the work of University of Minnesota professor Gary Remafedi, who complained to Apple earlier this week that being associated with the app is "professionally injurious."

"I think they made the right decision," he said, just after getting news of the app's demise. "I always suspected they would."

Nearly a year ago, Dr. Gary Remafedi learned his research for the Youth and AIDS Project was being used in a campaign urging schools to eliminate gay-straight alliances and other forms of support for questioning teens. Remafedi, who's dedicated his life to improving outreach to gay youth, has fought to get his name removed from the material.

One citation suggests that a study Remafedi did in 1992 shows most youths who report homosexual feelings eventually turn out to be heterosexual. Remafedi says his data is being twisted and the survey actually shows that those youth simply come to terms with their feelings, including coming out.

This week, he found out that the same "distortion" of his research was being referenced through the Exodus International iPhone app. He wrote a letter to Steve Jobs and got a call from Apple not long after.

Meanwhile, the group Truth Wins Out collected 150,000 signatures on an online petition asking Apple to take the app down. They said the app violates Apple's "no objectionable material" criteria and is an attempt on Exodus's part to reach younger audiences with their "cure" message.

"It's a very manipulative app," says executive director Wayne Besen.

Apple apparently agrees. Though no one at the company told him personally, Remafedi received the news this morning that the app is down. He says he's happy that at least one reference to his work in the service of ex-gay ministries has been eliminated, but that it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

"These things are best done upfront rather than trying to respond to criticism," he says. "This is a complex and controversial and deeply emotional topic."

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