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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

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.