Hoylman raps Google over ‘gay cure’ app flap

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | State Senator Brad Hoylman is calling for Google to examine why it took so long to remove a gay-conversion therapy app from its Play Store.

Last year, Hoylman reintroduced his bill banning the pseudoscientific practice and it was signed into law on Jan. 15. New York thus became the 15th state in the nation to ban gay-conversion therapy.

“This needs to be a real soul-searching moment for the company,” Hoylman said. “Where did the resistance come from and why?”

State Senator Brad Hoylman speaking in the Senate chambers in Albany on Mon., March 25. (Courtesy Brad Hoylman’s Office)

According to the senator, Google only moved to scrap the app after the Human Rights Campaign decided not to endorse the company on its 2019 Corporate Equity Index.

“After consulting with outside advocacy groups, reviewing our policies, and making sure we had a thorough understanding of the app and its relation to conversion therapy, we’ve decided to remove it from the Play Store, consistent with other app stores,” a Google representative said when asked why it chose to stop distributing the app at this moment.

Living Hope Ministries, the group behind the app, did not respond to a request for comment from this paper. But in January, Living Hope Ministries — which was founded with a gay-conversion mission — denied to The Verge that it was performing conversion therapy. The company’s Web site sates that it proclaims a Christ-centered, Biblical world-view of sexual expression rooted in one man and one woman in a committed, monogamous, heterosexual marriage for life.

“Anything less than this ideal falls short of God’s best for humanity,” the site states.

Last December, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple all stopped providing the app after an online petition on change.org — blasting the app as
“bigoted” and “hateful” — demanded its removal.

More than 141,806 people called for Google to remove the app on a separate petition on change.org .

Hoylman said that he met with multiple representatives from Google at least half a dozen times since January to ask about the status of the app’s removal. He was told technical issues and legal concerns were delaying the process.

To him, the company was just using delaying tactics. He said he found it very disappointing that the Google would not respond to an elected official representing the district that is now home to their New York City headquarters.

“Something is broken at Google,” Hoylman said in a statement. “It’s on them to fix it — the L.G.B.T.Q. community is watching.”  

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