Apple pulls app that misused U prof’s research

The Exodus International app sought to help people “leave” homosexuality.
March 22, 2011

After a complaint from University of Minnesota professor Gary Remafedi and thousands of others on the Internet, Apple Inc., on Tuesday, removed from its online store an application that Remafedi says misconstrued his research on adolescent sexual orientation.
Earlier this week, Remafedi sent a letter to Apple founder Steve Jobs and temporary CEO Tim Cook asking for the app to be removed. Produced by Exodus International, a Christian organization aimed at helping homosexuals’ “growth towards Godly heterosexuality,” the app redirects users to the group’s homepage.
In the letter to Apple, Remafedi said the website contains an article that “erroneously cites my research in support of claims that homosexuality can be changed.”
The app, released March 8, caused an uproar on the Internet. Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit that “fights anti-gay religious extremism,” started a petition that got at least 150,000 signatures asking Apple to remove the app from its online store.
The group notified Remafedi that his 1992 research on demographics of Minnesota adolescent sexuality had been misused by Exodus International, prompting the letter.
Although Exodus International’s mission “offers a healing alternative to those with homosexual tendencies,” and the group asserts that a “gay gene” is nonexistent, its beliefs contradict the findings of the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics — that homosexuality is neither a mental nor a physical condition.
Remafedi asserted his support of these organizations’ conclusions in his letter.
“We’re thrilled that this was taken down, that Apple made a smart business decision and listened to their loyal base of customers,” said Wayne Besen, executive director of TWO. “It was pretty clear that Exodus had violated Apple’s policies in many different ways.”
TWO runs a website called respectmyresearch.org, which is designed to notify scientists if their research appears to have been skewed to support a specific belief. Besen said his organization has had many brushes with Exodus International in the past.
“It’s one big distortion,” he said. “Everything they say they either just make it up or they take some research that’s 100 years old when people were in horse and buggies and try to present it as new.”
The Christian group responded to the uproar by defending its right to free expression. In a statement responding to the app’s removal, Exodus International President Alan Chambers said Apple had “caved” to gay activist groups.
“Ultimately, this issue comes down to what we, as a culture, believe about equality and the freedom to express our beliefs,” Chambers said. “It is our hope that Apple will reconsider its decision and allow our organization to be part of the ongoing conversation about the challenging issues many face today.”
Besen said his group and Change.org, which hosted its petition, were instrumental in getting the app taken down.
“The Exodus International app was removed because it violates [Apple’s] developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said.

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