Just one day after Google was suspended from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (which rates workplaces on overall LGBTQ equality), Google removed a gay conversion therapy app by a religious group called Living Hope Ministries from the Play Store.
This move came after multiple vocal protests from a wide range of groups, including thousands of internet users, New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, and most recently, the Human Rights Campaign, which suspended the tech giant for its refusal to remove the app from its store.
In December 2018, both Apple and Amazon removed the apps from their respective app stores, but the app remained live on Google’s store until last week. In that time, the call for Google to remove the app had gotten dramatically louder. A Change.org petition requesting that the app is removed reached over 142,000 signatures.
Conversion therapy is an app that pseudo-scientifically claims that a person’s sexuality can be changed from gay to straight through treatment, and which has been widely discredited in numerous studies. The app was developed by the Texas-based Christian group Living Hope Ministries, an anti-gay organization that claims to help gay people change their sexuality. Google previously refused to remove the app, arguing it didn’t explicitly violate the company’s terms of service.
In a statement released to Axios, Google explained, “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.”
HRC President Chad Griffin applauded Google for its decision to remove the app Friday. “So-called conversion therapy is a debunked practice that’s tantamount to child abuse and is proven to have dangerous consequences for its victims,” Griffin said in a statement. “Google and other platforms that have pulled this app are taking an important step to protect LGBTQ youth.”
Amit Paley, the CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project, an organization that focuses on suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth approved of Google in joining “the rest of the technology sector in its rightful rejection of the dangerous and discredited practice which harms the LGBTQ youth we serve each day.”