Apple pulls app that misused U prof’s research

The Exodus International app sought to help people “leave” homosexuality.

Conor Shine

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 homosexualsâÄô âÄúgrowth towards Godly heterosexuality,âÄù the app redirects users to the groupâÄôs homepage.
In the letter to Apple, Remafedi said the website contains an article that âÄúerroneously cites my research in support of claims that homosexuality can be changed.âÄù
The app, released March 8, caused an uproar on the Internet. Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit that âÄúfights anti-gay religious extremism,âÄù 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 InternationalâÄôs mission âÄúoffers a healing alternative to those with homosexual tendencies,âÄù and the group asserts that a âÄúgay geneâÄù is nonexistent, its beliefs contradict the findings of the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics âÄî that homosexuality is neither a mental nor a physical condition.
Remafedi asserted his support of these organizationsâÄô conclusions in his letter.
âÄúWeâÄôre thrilled that this was taken down, that Apple made a smart business decision and listened to their loyal base of customers,âÄù said Wayne Besen, executive director of TWO. âÄúIt was pretty clear that Exodus had violated AppleâÄôs policies in many different ways.âÄù
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.
âÄúItâÄôs one big distortion,âÄù he said. âÄúEverything they say they either just make it up or they take some research thatâÄôs 100 years old when people were in horse and buggies and try to present it as new.âÄù
The Christian group responded to the uproar by defending its right to free expression. In a statement responding to the appâÄôs removal, Exodus International President Alan Chambers said Apple had âÄúcavedâÄù to gay activist groups.
âÄúUltimately, this issue comes down to what we, as a culture, believe about equality and the freedom to express our beliefs,âÄù Chambers said. âÄúIt 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.âÄù
Besen said his group and Change.org, which hosted its petition, were instrumental in getting the app taken down.
âÄúThe Exodus International app was removed because it violates [AppleâÄôs] developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people,âÄù Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said.