Apple removes app for allegedly portraying homosexuality as 'sickness'

Apple reportedly removed an app from its online store following claims the program described being gay as a “sickness,” “addiction" and “sin.”

NBC News reported that the company recently pulled the app developed by the nonprofit Living Hope Ministries after Truth Wins Out, an organization fighting what it calls "anti-gay religious extremism,” launched a petition last week.

Ricky Chelette, the executive director of the Living Hope Ministries, told the news agency that the nonprofit developed the app several years ago to “help folks who are conflicted with their faith and feelings.”

"We have been doing that for a very long time,” he said of their efforts.

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Chelette told the news outlet he had also been attracted to men in the past but later changed after having a life-altering experience with Jesus. 

Truth Wins Out said in its petition, which gathered 356 signatures before the app was pulled, that the app targeted LGBT youth who it sought to "change from gay-to-straight through prayer and therapy."

"The app falsely portrays being gay as an 'addiction', 'sickness', and 'sin'. The American Psychiatric Association warns that attempts to change one's sexual orientation can lead to 'anxiety, depression, and self-destructive behavior,' including suicide. Why would Apple allow its online store to be used as a platform to promote such dangerous, homophobic garbage?" the petition asked.

Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen later thanked Apple for removing the app in a statement Friday, according to NBC News.

“We thank Apple for exemplifying corporate responsibility and taking swift action to remove a dangerous app that stigmatizes and demeans LGBT people,” said Besen. “Ex-gay programs are consumer fraud and cause significant harm to the people they purport to help.”

The gay rights group said it will work to have the app removed from other platforms as well.

Chelette told NBC News, however, that he was not informed that Apple would be taking down the app and plans to challenge the move.

"I think it’s unfortunate that the advocacy group doesn’t know what we do and is assuming that we’re some hate organization. We are not," Chelette said. "We love gay-identified individuals."