Google has finally responded to community concern and pulled a conversion therapy app the tech giant was allowing to be downloaded from its Play Store.
In January, LGBTI advocacy group Truth Wins Out launched a petition calling on Google to remove the app from Living Hope Ministries, with the number of signatures rising from 42,000 to over 140,000 in the past two months.
Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft had all already removed the app from their platforms months ago.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) also moved to suspend Google from its Corporate Equality Index over the company’s refusal to remove the app from sale.
The app was published by a ministry which touted the practice of “ex-gay therapy” and claimed the legitimacy of a “cure” for LGBTI people.
Living Hope’s app also “repeatedly belittles transgender people as suffering from ‘gender confusion’,” according to the petition, and claims it can “help homosexuals leave their destructive lifestyle”.
“This is what people power looks like, when 140,000 people can convince one of the largest companies in the world to take a bold stand against the dangers of ex-gay therapy,” said Michael Jones, Managing Director of Campaigns at Change.org.
“This was the perfect storm of online pressure and institutional activism from the LGBTQ movement, and tonight supporters can claim a big win in convincing tech companies to stand up for equality.”
“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,” Google said in a statement.
The HRC welcomed the decision, with HRC President Chad Griffin saying the company had made “the right decision to pull this app from their online store.”
“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.”
The app had been downloaded approximately 1,000 times since it was made available in 2014.
A 2018 report revealed that at least ten organisations promoting sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) were operating in Australia and New Zealand.
Around ten per cent of Australian LGBT people are still vulnerable to ex-gay and ex-trans therapies.
In December, Labor amended its national platform to acknowledge the harm done by SOCE, while the Victorian government has announced it will ban conversion therapy practices while also pledging $145,000 in funding to support survivors.
SOCE survivor Chris Csabs has previously petitioned government ministers to outlaw the practices, garnering over 57,000 signatures.
Csabs co-authored the SOCE Survivors Statement containing a list of recommendations to government and opposition MPs, which you can read by clicking here.