Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Google has so far refused to take down an app, already barred by Apple, Amazon and Microsoft, that aims to convince people that their same-sex sexual attractions are both sinful and changeable.

Why it matters: The app, from Living Hope Ministries, amounts to a form of conversion therapy, say LGBTQ rights groups that have urged Google to change its stance.


  • The app offers testimonials and articles and includes sections for men, women, young people and parents.
  • More than 139,000 people have signed a petition calling on Google to ban the app, which has been downloaded at least 1,000 times. (The Google Play app store no longer gives specific download numbers but reports rough tiers.)
  • A separate petition, calling on Apple to reinstate the app, has 20 signatures.

The big picture: The practice of conversion therapy is roundly opposed by the mainstream medical community as both ineffective and dangerous.

  • Conversion therapy is opposed by prominent professional medical associations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • A 2018 study by The Family Acceptance Project found rates of attempted suicide by LGBT youth whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation were more than double the rate of LGBT youth who reported no such attempts to change their orientation.
  • Efforts are underway to ban the practice in all 50 states.

Yes, but: Supporters of the app maintain it isn't endorsing or practicing conversion therapy.

Between the lines: While Apple and Amazon were able to ban the apps due to policies against objectionable content, the wording of Google's terms of service are less broad. Advocacy groups, however, argue the app is tantamount to encouraging self-harm and child endangerment, both of which do violate Google's terms of service.

What they're saying: Several major LGBTQ rights groups told Axios they have written letters to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and have been trying, unsuccessfully, to meet with company executives face-to-face to voice their concerns. (There have been some staff-level discussions.)

"We are hopeful that technology companies recognize the harm of apps that promote conversion therapy. The Trevor Project hears from conversion therapy survivors in crisis every day, and we remain committed to ending the harmful practice in every state because we know it contributes to an increased risk of suicidal behavior among LGBTQ youth."
Trevor Project CEO Amit Paley
"We have been urging Google to remove this app because it is life-threatening to LGBTQ youth and also clearly violates the company’s own standards. Amazon, Apple and Microsoft have taken action to remove the app from their platforms, but so far Google has refused despite our warnings about the dangers."
Human Rights Campaign spokesperson

Google, meanwhile, isn't commenting on its decision.

The bottom line: Pressure will likely continue to mount on Google.

  • With letters and requests for executive meetings having gone unheeded, sources say Human Rights Campaign is weighing whether the decision should impact Google's score in the group's annual Corporate Equality Index, an influential rating of a company's stances on LGBTQ issues. That index is due out late this month.

That said, Google could face a backlash from the other side of the ideological divide if it reverses course.

Go deeper

Updated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 19,792,519— Total deaths: 730,089 — Total recoveries — 12,060,877Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of midnight ET: 5,044,821 — Total deaths: 162,938 — Total recoveries: 1,656,864 — Total tests: 61,792,571Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi says states don't have the funds to comply with Trump's executive order on unemployment — Mnuchin says Trump executive orders were cleared by Justice Department.
  4. States: New York reports lowest rate of positive coronavirus test results since pandemic began
  5. Public health: Ex-FDA head: U.S. will "definitely" see 200,000 to 300,000 virus deaths by end of 2020. 
  6. Schools: 97,000 children test positive for coronavirus in two weeks — Nine test positive at Georgia school where photo showing packed hallway went viral .

97,000 children test positive for coronavirus in two weeks

A boy has his temperature checked as he receives a free COVID-19 test in South Los Angeles in July. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

At least 97,000 children tested positive for COVID-19 in the final two weeks of July and there's been an estimated 338,000 cases involving kids in the U.S. since the pandemic began, a new report finds.

Why it matters: The findings in the report by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association comes as schools and day cares look to reopen in the U.S., with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announcing Friday that school districts in the state can reopen in the fall amid lower coronavirus transmission rates.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai at the Next Digital offices in Hong Kong in June. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai has been arrested for "collusion with foreign powers," said Mark Simon, an executive at the tycoon's media firm Next Digital Monday morning local time.

Why it matters: He was arrested under the new national security law that gives Beijing more powers over the former British colony. Lai is the most prominent person arrested under the law, which prompted the U.S. to sanction Chinese officials, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, over Beijing's efforts to strip the territory of its autonomy.