Update at bottom of post

Truth Wins Out, an LGBT education and advocacy organization that “fights anti-LGBT religious extremism and the “ex-gay” myth,” is calling on the Apple iTunes App Store to pull a new app designed by Exodus International.

The group is urging citizens to sign a petition to Apple and says in a release:

Truth Wins Out has reached out to Apple several times and the company has not yet responded. If Apple continues to bury its head in the sand, we will hold a press conference in front of their offices featuring sexual and spiritual abuse victims of “ex-gay” programs.

“If Apple does not respond, we will take steps to ensure that Apple meets the victims of ‘ex-gay’ ministries and learns how their lives were destroyed,” said Truth Wins Out’s Executive Director Wayne Besen. “It is astounding that Apple would allow an app from an organization that promotes gay exorcisms, demonizes LGBT people, and is rejected by every respected mental health association in America.”

Truth Wins Out founder Wayne Besen also released a video documenting what they say are lies by Exodus International.

And, on Monday, the group released a letter to Apple’s Steve Jobs and Tim Cook from a researcher who says his work is being “erroneously cited” by Exodus:

Dear Messrs. Jobs and Cook,

This message serves as a request to remove the Exodus International application from Apple’s iphone offerings because the website content is objectionable. It erroneously cites my research (Remafedi 1992) in support of claims that homosexuality can be changed.

Various professional organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental or physical condition. Programs which aim to change sexual orientation have been opposed because they are unwarranted, ineffective, unethical, and harmful.

Exodus’s website features an article (Buchanan 2010) which makes erroneous statements and conclusions and attributes them to Remafedi (1992). Statements were made to the effect to that many teens are confused about their sexual orientation and that sexual orientation is amenable to change. Further, associating my work with that of the ex-gay ministry and other unfounded treatments is professionally injurious and grievous.

As a savvy consumer, I understand that corporations market phones both by offering a wide array of applications and by appealing to niche audiences like Exodus’s. In turn, Exodus applies the Apple “4+” smartphone application rating to its own website as an imprimatur (see http://exodusinternational.org/).

From my perspective, the risk of offending and harming consumers by providing a platform for erroneous information about an important health and social topic far outweighs the potential financial gain. Arguably, corporations have no affirmative responsibility to vendors under the First Amendment of the Constitution, but they are accountable for the quality and consequences of their products.

For the aforementioned reasons, I ask Apple to revoke the 4+ rating and delete the Exodus application from the iphone’s menu of applications.

Respectfully,

Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H.

Update (March 21, 2011, 5:15 p.m.): Three days ago, Truth Wins Out’s petition at Change.org had over 30,000 signatures. Today, that petition surpassed 100,000. It’s a phenomenal number, and we were curious why so many people seemed engaged on an issue that has been, until recently, mostly ignored by most mainstream and LGBT media outlets.

We posed that question to Wayne Besen.

“This issue moves people at a visceral level because Exodus is questioning their very existence and attacking the very core of their humanity,” Besen responded. “It evokes emotion because it deals with the three issues one does not discuss at the dinner table with polite company: sex, religion and politics. And, there is also a strong affinity for many LGBT people and their allies with Apple. In this case, people are energized and mobilized because they feel like they are being betrayed by a close friend.”

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.