Google has refused to take down an app promoting gay conversion therapy from its Play Store despite pressure from LGBT rights groups.
The controversial Living Hope Ministries app, which was removed by Apple from the App Store in December, has drawn opposition in the form of a petition with 139,000 signatures and letters to Google CEO Sundar Pichai from two prominent advocacy organizations.
"We have been urging Google to remove this app because it is life-threatening to LGBTQ youth and also clearly violates the company’s own standards. Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have taken action to remove the app from their platforms, but so far Google has refused despite our warnings about the dangers," a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBT rights group in the U.S., told Axios.
The app reportedly provides users with recordings of sermons and text devotionals; there’s also a section for “help,” reportedly contains stories telling gay and lesbian readers that their sexuality can be ignored or changed. However, the app's supporters maintain that it does not endorse or practice gay conversion therapy.
"We are hopeful that technology companies recognize the harm of apps that promote conversion therapy. The Trevor Project hears from conversion therapy survivors in crisis every day, and we remain committed to ending the harmful practice in every state because we know it contributes to an increased risk of suicidal behavior among LGBTQ youth," Trevor Project CEO Amit Paley told Axios.
The Human Rights Campaign is weighing whether to lower Google's score in the group's annual Corporate Equality Index, according to Axios.
A source familiar with the matter told Fox News that there have been staff-level discussions between Google and the LGBT groups on this issue.
Fifteen states have banned so-called conversion therapy, according to The Advocate. The practice, which is opposed by most mainstream medical organizations, claims that individuals have the ability to change their sexual orientation.
A New York state senator who sponsored the bill banning conversion therapy in the state blasted Google for its inaction.
“Google [is] planning to have about 7,000 employees in our Senate district, so I would urge them to remove the app post-haste,” he told The Verge in a statement. “I’m hopeful that they’ll see the harm that this kind of message sends to the kids and families.”