Rep. Brian Sims Questions Google’s Commitment to the LGBTQ Community After Company Refuses to Remove Dangerous ‘Ex-Gay’ App  

Despite 133,000 Petition Signatures, Google Remains Silent In the Face of Mounting International Pressure

WASHINGTON – Truth Wins Out applauded Pennsylvania State Representative Brian K. Sims (D-Philadelphia)today for his statement denouncing Google for its continuing refusal to delete a dangerous “pray away the gay” app that it is still hosting at its Google Play store. Sims also spoke out against Google’s behavior in a Facebook Live post today. WATCH FB LIVE BELOW

Google’s inexplicable silence comes in the face of mounting pressure and worldwide media attention, including a petition hosted by Truth Wins Out that has nearly 133,000 signatures. Apple, Microsoft and Amazon had already removed the app, after learning of its hateful contents. Sims now joins NY State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D) in demanding Google dump the app.

In today’s statement, Sims strongly “denounced” Google’s inaction “for refusing to remove an app that encourages LGBTQ youth to seek out conversion therapy.” According to Sims:

“Google’s silent refusal to remove this app speaks volumes about the quality of their commitment to the LGBTQ community. This app specifically targets youth during a challenging period of their lives as they wrestle with their identity in an attempt to connect them to a dangerous practice that is condemned by every reputable professional medical association that exists. Let us be clear, this is abuse — not therapy.

“I would encourage Google executives to meet with victims of this debunked and cruel practice, as I have, to learn firsthand of the lifetime of pain and anguish they continue to enable. Facilitating this abuse is abhorrently wrong.

“I have introduced legislation to ban conversion therapy in Pennsylvania so the commonwealth can join 

the 15 states that have done so to protect youth from this abuse that leads to significantly higher rates of depression, substance abuse and suicidal ideation. Google’s continued failure to remove this app demonstrates it is on the wrong side of history, science and medicine.

“I call on Google to join Apple, Microsoft and Amazon in immediately suspending this app on its platforms to send a clear message to LGBTQ youth across the country that they are perfect the way they are.”

Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen also weighed in:

“It is unconscionable that Google is still offering an online platform to an organization that seeks to marginalize and stigmatize LGBT people. It’s time for Google to join Apple, Microsoft and Amazon in deleting this hateful and dangerous app that promotes prejudice and fosters discrimination.

“We are surprised and dismayed by Google’s arrogance in believing the company is so large that it doesn’t have to publicly respond to the serious concerns expressed by public officials and the 133,000 people who have signed our petition to remove the destructive app targeting LGBT youth.”

By any standard, the app is noxious and discriminatory. It brazenly compares homosexuality to an addiction caused by “deep-seated wounds.” It casually trashes the rich and fulfilling lives of most LGBT people by claiming it “can help homosexuals leave their destructive lifestyles.” Living Hope repeatedly belittles transgender people by saying they suffer from “gender confusion.” The group refers to gay men as “sexually broken guys” who can “walk out of false identities” and claims, without evidence, that the “gay lifestyle” is “spiritually and physically harmful.”

The app also disrespects gay Christians by proclaiming that they “teach a false gospel” and that homosexuality “falls short of God’s best for humanity.” The group promises to walk “individuals toward God and away from bondage.”

In one video, featured on Living Hope’s website, the organization seems to suggest that being gay is the work of Satan, with the Men’s Ministry Director saying, “God blessed us with three incredible children, whom the devil intended none of them would be here.” In another video, a mother talks about how she rejected her son, “The enemy of our soul was already working on convincing my husband and I of the lie that our son was gay and born that way, and that it was our entire fault.”

The American Psychiatric Association says that attempts to change sexual orientation can lead to “anxiety, depression and self-destructive behavior,” including suicide. The American Psychological Association says, “There is simply no sufficiently scientifically sound evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.” Such “therapy” is considered so detrimental that fifteen states and the District of Colombia ban practicing it on minors.

The pseudoscientific advice promulgated by Living Hope, which its staff is wholly unqualified to offer, is also of grave concern. The organization incorrectly tells clients that gay people “experience detachment from their own biblical gender” and that “many who struggle with SSA (Same Sex Attraction) have issues with abandonment.” Living Hope markets products to kids such as, “Why? Understanding the Roots of Male Homosexuality and Gender Identity”, as if their untrained, ill-equipped staff is certified in dispensing medical or mental health advice to young clients.

Living Hope is also grossly misleading clients by not revealing its complete history. For years, the organization was part of the “ex-gay” umbrella group Exodus International, which had its app taken out of the Apple store in 2011 after Truth Wins Out launched a petition that gathered nearly 150,000 signatures. Two years after the app was removed, Exodus closed its doors after acknowledging that their program did not successfully transform people from gay to straight. Living Hope’s embarrassing affiliation with a now-defunct ministry is not reflected in the group’s app or website, giving the false impression that this ministry has a history of success, when it has one of notable failure.

Founded in 2006, Truth Wins Out is a nonprofit think tank and advocacy organization that fights against right wing extremism and anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination.