Google has come under the spotlight again for all the wrong reasons.
This time the tech giant had failed to remove a controversial app from the Play Store, leading to Google being removed from the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (PDF), which ranks the most LGBTQ-friendly companies.
The app in question is called Living Hope Ministries, which sounds relatively innocuous, but actually serves as a conversion therapy tool.
Since being suspended from the Index, Google has removed the app from its Play Store, which is something that Apple did for the App Store in December last year after coming under similar scrutiny and pressure from human rights groups.
Links to the Living Hope Ministries app now lead to a broken page, following the removal.
As for why this conversion therapy app proved so controversial (if it’s not obvious), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) noted in its Index that, “conversion therapy can lead to depression, anxiety, drug use, homelessness, and suicide.”
“Pending remedial steps by the company to address this app that can cause harm to the LGBTQ community, the (Corporate Equality Index’s) rating is suspended,” HRC continued.
Responding to allegations that it promotes and practices conversion therapy earlier this year, Living Hope Ministries told The New York Times that it denounces it completely, and said their organisation does not try to “correct” the orientation of people who are attracted to the same sex.
As we have not used or encountered the app, and cannot do so now since it has been removed from app stores, it’s unclear whether there is validity to Living Hope Ministries’ response to allegations.
That said, TechCrunch reports that their website states that it, “speaks to thousands of people each year about how they, as Christ-followers, might respond redemptively to those who are struggling with same gender attraction.” Adding that they specialise in supporting, “wives of men who struggle with same gender attractions.”
With many a tech company grappling with how they handle gender, race and sexual orientation in the workplace, as well as in the services and products they design, it will become increasingly important for them to set the standard.
Whether or not Google will be place on the HRC Index following the removal of the app remains to be seen.