Google has been coming under pressure from several LGBTQ groups to remove the Living Hope Ministries app from the Play Store for Android apps. A petition demanding that Google remove the app also garnered more than 140,000 signatures on Change.org.
"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 spokesman told Fox News, via email.
The app reportedly provides users with recordings of sermons and text devotionals and includes sections for men, women, young people and parents. Living Hope Ministries has claimed that the app does not promote or endorse conversion therapy.
The Sundar Pichai-led company has been taking heat over the app since earlier this year, with LGBTQ advocacy groups the Human Rights Campaign, Truth Wins Out and Democratic New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman had been campaigning for the app’s removal.
“We applaud @Google for making the right decision to pull this from their online store, an important step to protect LGBTQ youth,” tweeted Human Rights Campaign late Thursday.
The Human Rights Campaign, which is the country's largest LGBTQ rights group, had revoked its endorsement of Google over the app.
“VICTORY: TWO is delighted that Google finally deleted a dangerous app that targeted LGBTQ youth with toxic messages of guilt and shame,” tweeted Truth Wins Out.
Hoylman also welcomed Google’s move but said that the tech giant should have acted earlier.
“It took months of activism by Truth Wins Out and Change.org, and today Human Rights Campaign, to get Google to pull a conversion therapy app. I called Google out in the press about this in January. They took no action. Credit is due for finally acting—but Google now needs a serious internal audit examining why it delayed so long.”
Prior to the outcry over the Living Hope Ministries app, Google had scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI) due to policies like same-sex health benefits and transgender-inclusive healthcare.
"Sometimes known as “reparative therapy,” so-called “conversion therapy” includes a range of dangerous and discredited practices that falsely claim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression,” explains the Human Rights Campaign, in its CEI. “Such practices have been rejected by every mainstream medical and mental health organization for decades. Minors are especially vulnerable, and conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide."
Sixteen states and Puerto Rico have banned conversion therapy.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers
Follow Christopher Carbone on Twitter @christocarbone