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Google's Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. Photo: Google

Google is pulling a controversial app that LGBTQ rights groups say engages in a form of conversion therapy, joining Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, all of which banned the app months ago.

Why it matters: Google had refused to ban the app from Living Hope Ministries, saying it didn't clearly violate its Play Store terms of service.

The backdrop: The change comes less than a day after Human Rights Campaign suspended Google's rating in its influential Corporate Equality Index. Axios first reported last week that HRC was considering such a move. Google's score in the index, released earlier Thursday, will now be restored.

What they're saying:

  • Google: "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."
  • HRC President Chad Griffin: "We applaud Google for making the right decision to pull this app from their online store. So-called conversion therapy is a debunked practice that's tantamount to child abuse and is proven to have dangerous consequences for its victims. Google and other platforms that have pulled this app are taking an important step to protect LGBTQ youth."
  • Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director, The Trevor Project: “The very idea that sexual orientation and gender identity should be changed is junk science. We are glad Google has joined the rest of the technology sector in its rightful rejection of the dangerous and discredited practice which harms the LGBTQ youth we serve each day.”

The app, which had been downloaded at least 1,000 times, offered testimonials and articles and includes sections for men, women, young people and parents.

  • More than 140,000 people had signed a Change.org petition calling on Google to ban the app. That effort as well as a behind-the-scenes push to get others to apply pressure was spearheaded by Truth Wins Out. A separate petition, calling on Apple to reinstate the app, has 24 signatures.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - World

North Korea fires short-range missile to sea, slams "hostile" U.S. policy

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday that North Korea's military had fired a short-range missile toward its eastern sea, per AP.

Why it matters: North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations defended the latest launch in remarks to the UN General Assembly, demanding the U.S. and South Korea end their "hostile policy" against the country.

Arizona Judge: Adding mask mandates ban to budget bill is unconstitutional

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

An Arizona judge ruled Monday that the state's ban on mask mandates in schools, and other measures put into the state budget by Republicans, are unconstitutional, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The sweeping ruling voids a ban on vaccine requirements for public universities, community colleges and local governments, and strikes down some non-COVID-related measures like a ban on teaching critical race theory in classrooms and anti-fraud measures for ballots.

Activision to set up $18M victims fund in response to harassment suit

Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Activision Blizzard announced plans Monday to settle a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission hours after it was filed.

Why it matters: This is Activision's most visible acknowledgment of problems at the company, in the wake of a series of workplace misconduct lawsuits, complaints and investigations initiated against the "Call of Duty" and "World of Warcraft" maker since the summer.