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Group calls for removal of 'gay cure' app from iOS, Android stores

updated 06:00 pm EDT, Thu May 30, 2013

App claimed to cure homosexuality in 60 days; still available on Google Play

A gay rights advocacy group known as All Out has called on both Apple and Google to remove a "gay cure" app from their respective app stores. Apple has already removed the app, but as of this writing the program, Setting Captives Free is still available on Google's Play store. Though the program purports to offer solutions to a number of spiritual and medical issues, its main purpose is promoting a 60-day plan that claims to cure gays and lesbians of their sexual orientation. All Out launched a petition drive yesterday to urge stores to remove the app.

The advocacy group reported the app using normal procedures as well as the publicity drive, and Apple quickly removed it. "There is absolutely zero evidence that programs like Setting Captives Free work," said spokesperson Andre Banks. "It is so ridiculous that anyone would think an iPhone or Android app could cure someone's sexual orientation that it is easy to laugh this off, but there are vulnerable people who don't know better and will try this app and fail to change. We are most concerned about those who will harm themselves as a result of this insane app."

The group does note in its petition call that both Apple and Google have policies against these types of apps, but feel that Setting Captives Free may have slipped in under the radar because "curing" homosexuality is not the sole purpose of the app -- it also gives biblically-based advice on diet, substance abuse, gambling and other addictions. All Out notes that practices that try to change people's sexual orientation have been denounced by the American Psychiatric Association, the Pan-American Health Organization and many governments.

At present, the petition has collected over 37,000 signatures trying to pressure Google into removing the app from its Play store. The free program has received uniformly bad reviews, has a current Play ranking of 1.7, and the store indicates it has seen fewer than 5,000 installs. No explanation has been given from Google as to why the app remains available there.




By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    The same rights that give you the ability to promote homosexuality give these people the right to promote abstinence. It's a slippery slope when petitions can be allowed to dictate civil freedoms...as the gay community is well aware of.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    You didn't read the article, did you? This app isn't promoting abstinence ... it's promising to "cure" homosexuality in 60 days. Regardless of your feelings of insecurity with your own masculinity, apps should not be allowed to sell snake oil. That's what the petition ... and the article ... are about. Maybe next time try reading it.

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    @chas_m: What about my comments state I didn't read the article...and what states my gender or aversion to homosexuality, bigot?! My comment was directed toward the issue of allowing offended groups to dictate the livelihood of others through politics (petitions)...whether it's the gay community, the gun community, the religious community, etc. It's not your authority to decide who sells or buys snake oil.

  1. Saint_Stryfe

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-24-01

    No one here is bigot. What is a problem is an App making a medical claim - that it can "cure" you of anything. It would be the same as if an App said it could cure cancer or heart disease. It's false, it's wrong, and it shouldn't be on an official software channel. The fact that it's claim - that there's something wrong with homosexuality that needs "curing" - is offensive, but secondary.

  1. tmid

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-30-13

    @chas_m: your point to pairof9s regarding the inappropriateness of snake oil apps is valid. But your attack on the poster with your comment "Regardless of your feelings of insecurity with your own masculinity," is over the line and beneath a member of the MAcNN team. If your post's intent was to strike a blow against perceived homophobia, then a euphemism for "you're so ghey" directed as a slur at the poster was offensive, juvenile, and wholly inappropriate. If your reply's intent was to focus the poster's attention on an argument against misleading apps, you had no need of the ad hominem phrase.

  1. LenE

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-19-04

    I never would have known this app even existed. If I had known about it, I would not have any more reason to download it than I would for any of the myriad of fart apps. I'm not sure which group gets more publicity from this, the Setting Captives Free people, or the All out group. It kind of feels symbiotic.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    tmid: I accept your criticism of my original post, and apologize for that small portion. But it was very clear that pairof9s either didn't read or completely misinterpreted the very clear description of the app before claiming that the removal of the app infringed on free speech. This is not a free speech issue, nor is it about gays/homosexuality: it's a fraud issue, plain and simple.

  1. tmid

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-30-13

    chas_m: thanks for your courteous reply. I agree with you that the issue with the app is neither one of free speech nor homosexuality. As you say, the app's makers' claim of curing (anything) is fraud, plain and simple. Persons on any side of the issues it purports to address will clearly politicize the arguments, but ultimately those arguments are noise. The removal of the app boils down to a reasonable policy against snake oil vending.

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    I thank you for your support, tmid and I accept your apology, chas_m. However, I still take issue w/ your assertion that I did not read the article...I did, completely. I argue that you continue to take a narrow focus on the issue. You call it fraud; another calls it salvation...who is truly right? If the app promised $1 million, that would be a tangible result that could prove fraudulent. But this is subjective at best in determining (How does one prove they are no longer gay?). Look, I have no dog in this hunt...I'm neither homosexual nor religious, so I feel no aversion either way. But I do think it's more dangerous to allow people to decide what is in my best interest. Let's be practical here...if I can afford an iPhone, know how to use, and am able to read & comprehend this app's content, don't you think I'm capable of making my own decision on its validity?

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 09-17-99

    well, pairof9s, chas_m is clearly right. Homosexuality is not something that is overcome, saved from, or cured. The app claims to do that - it can't.

    Regardless, if you want to tackle a censorship issue, Apple is a private company, a government. Apple is not a representative for the people. They have the right to sell or not sell what they wish. Apple is not deciding in your best interest at all, they're deciding what they want to sell. Just like Nintendo, VTech, Sony, MS, etc. decide what to sell on their platforms. And just like Walmart, your local corner store, etc. decides what to sell on their shelves. And just like what a church decides to preach to their congregation.

  1. hayesk

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 09-17-99

    obviously the second paragraph should read "not a government". Oops.

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Right, Hayesk...which in all your points is the principle of free market, which is what I'm advocating...not the whims of political interest groups. Apple is doing exactly that...they're selling this app regardless of politics. So when you speak of censorship, isn't this exactly what this All Out group is pursuing?

    And when exactly did homosexuality become a disease? Therefore, how can it be seen that an app can cure or not cure it? That it's a stupid app should not be the basis for banning it (looking at you, f@rt apps!)...isn't that purpose of each app's Reviews section?

    It's just my belief that it's not up to you or me to use our political, religious or social agendas to ban what the App Store sells to others. The Store works just fine on its own merits.

  1. tmid

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-30-13

    pairsof9s: I think there is a convergence of dynamics with this app that complicate the issue. First, I agree with you that special interests of any stripe wielding ban-hammers to cow businesses and society is unacceptable. I find it offensive. All Out is motivated by a political purpose, but that doesn't change the fact that the app makes a false claim about "curing" something. A claim that is unsupportable by science or reason.

    From a free market perspective, false claims should be disallowed in advertising of service, should they not? Or should every vendor or manufacturer be free to make whatever mild or extravagant claim they want and consumers rely on word-of-mouth and experience to weed the them out? Caveat emptor?

    You are correct that the App Store works well without social jiggering, but don't forget that there are terms associated with selling on the App Store. Apple does not permit use of its storefront for sales making false claims regarding treatment of illness or guaranty of outcome. Technically, that's where this app crosses the line. I don't equate homosexuality with a disease, but if we allow that analogy for sake of debating the app's presence in the store, then imagine justifying an app that claimed 60 days of use would cure diabetes. Or depression. Despite the "magical" nature of iDevices, that's straight up fraudulent.

    While we beautiful, wise, glittering bloggerati know to scoff at claims such as those made by this app's makers or the "one weird trick to..." ad on website sidebars, there are millions of persons capable of buying and using smartphones who aren't similarly gifted with such wit and wisdom. And stunning good looks.

    Consider also that if Apple permits a false claims-of-benefit app to persist on its store, those persons can make litigiously viable assertions that they believed those claims because "Apple wouldn't allow the sale of a fraud". "It can't be a false claim of cure because Apple would not—could not—allow such." By allowing this app in the store, Apple is granting its imprimatur.

    Just note the number of people who say "Apple is selling" this app. No. The maker is selling it. Apple is providing distribution for a percent of the sale.

    Once upon a time, chiropractors were unlicensed and unregulated. Back in those dim days, it was not at all uncommon for them to claim they could cure a host of disorders, even cancer, with spinal adjustments. Is it safe, reasonable, or wise to permit that kind of unfair practice?

    If this app was just a "Get closer to God" app with a lot of encouragement for walking a straight path (ba-dum-Bump!), then All Out would be out of line pursuing its removal. Yes, you and I know they are not motivated by fair free market practices. But, they are accurate when they point out the app makes unsupportable claims of "treatment". Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. If the vendor reworks the app so that it doesn't falsely claim curing teh ghey, then the argument All Out has becomes purely socio-policital and they need to simmer down or make an app to compete for mindshare.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    They should just create a Mythology section in the store where they can put all these types of apps.

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