BY NOREEN FAGAN Last week, a homophobic iPhone app sparked
large-scale protest. More than 80,000 people have signed a petition calling for
Apple to remove it from the Apple-owned iTunes store.
The app, Exodus International, was created by a religious
organization to help gays become straight by “encouraging, educating and
equipping the Body of Christ to address the issue of homosexuality with grace
Apple, known for its strict guidelines, gave the app a 4+
rating, meaning that it contains no objectionable material.
In November 2010, Apple removed another anti-gay app after receiving a petition with 7,000
signatures. That app, The Manhattan Declaration, also received a 4+ rating. It allowed
users to sign an anti-gay-marriage declaration and take a survey about abortion and gay marriage. Those who supported either were told their answers
were wrong. The app links to a conservative website.
Apple has more than
300,000 apps available for download. Banned apps include one that mocks
former US president George Bush and one called Me So Holy that allows users to
paste pictures of themselves over the heads of religious leaders.
Those calling for the app’s removal may want to be careful what they wish for. As Brent Creelman pointed out last year, Apple has a long and not-so-proud history of scrubbing gay and otherwise sexual material from its site. As he says:
Even if your app is approved, Apple can change its mind at any time and yank it from the App Store. Yikes. Many developers learned that the hard way in February. Apple purged
thousands of “overtly sexual” apps from its store without warning.
Hunk du Jour was among the deleted apps. It featured tame pictures of hot guys. Somehow, sexy brand-name apps like Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Challenge and Playboy were unaffected.
And don’t forget Grindr, the gay men’s “friend finder":
Since its launch in 2009, Grindr has been careful to comply with Apple’s
rules. Grindr has “censors who work 24/7 to review each profile,”
founder Joel Simkhai told Xtra in 2009. Generally, profiles can’t
contain nudity, sexually suggestive pictures or profanity. A neighbour
of mine had his profile text censored because he wished people a “Happy
Fucking Valentine’s Day.”
Perhaps in reaction to Apple’s purge of sexy apps in February , Grindr tightened its guidelines further. Among the new, specific profile rules: “No underwear can be visible.”
And: “Pants and shorts must be worn normally, buttoned and not pulled or
hanging down.” Your Grindr profile may not contain “text referring to genital size or sexual acts.”