BURLINGTON, Vt. - University of Minnesota researcher Dr. Gary Ramafedi wrote a letter today asking Apple founder Steve Jobs and interim CEO Tim Cook to remove a controversial "ex-gay" app from its online store. The scientist claimed that Exodus International distorted his work in an effort to misrepresent homosexuality and confuse the app's users.
When one clicks the Exodus app, it directs the viewer to a webpage that answers questions about homosexuality. One of the question sequences is, "If people are same-sex attracted but don't ever act on it, does that make them homosexual? What if they do engage in same-sex physical intimacy? Are they homosexual then?"
In answering these questions, Exodus twists the findings of Dr. Ramafedi to make it appear as if homosexuality is just a transitory phase in youth.
"Exodus depends on distorting the work of legitimate researchers and using junk science to trick its vulnerable clients into believing they can go from gay to straight," said Wayne Besen, executive director for Truth Wins Out. "Apple should not aid and abet the spread of deliberate scientific misinformation, nor should they create a pernicious platform for anti-gay lies."
Dr. Gary Ramafedi sent the following letter to Jobs and Cook this morning:
Dear Messrs. Jobs and Cook,
This message serves as a request to remove the Exodus International application from Apple's iPhone offerings because the website content is objectionable. It erroneously cites my research (Remafedi 1992) in support of claims that homosexuality can be changed.
Various professional organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental or physical condition. Programs which aim to change sexual orientation have been opposed because they are unwarranted, ineffective, unethical, and harmful.
Exodus's website features an article (Buchanan 2010) which makes erroneous statements and conclusions and attributes them to Remafedi (1992). Statements were made to the effect to that many teens are confused about their sexual orientation and that sexual orientation is amenable to change. Further, associating my work with that of the ex-gay ministry and other unfounded treatments is professionally injurious and grievous.
As a savvy consumer, I understand that corporations market phones both by offering a wide array of applications and by appealing to niche audiences like Exodus's. In turn, Exodus applies the Apple "4+" smartphone application rating to its own website as an imprimatur (see HERE).
From my perspective, the risk of offending and harming consumers by providing a platform for erroneous information about an important health and social topic far outweighs the potential financial gain. Arguably, corporations have no affirmative responsibility to vendors under the First Amendment of the Constitution, but they are accountable for the quality and consequences of their products.
For the aforementioned reasons, I ask Apple to revoke the 4+ rating and delete the Exodus application from the iPhone's menu of applications.
Gary Remafedi, M.D., M.P.H.
Remafedi G, Resnick M, Blum R, Harris L. Demography of sexual orientation in adolescents. Pediatrics. 89(4):714-721, 1992.
Buchanan J. If people are same-sex attracted but don't ever act on it, does that make them homosexual? What if they do engage in same-sex physical intimacy? Are they homosexual then? January 11, 2010 (Available HERE. Accessed on March 20, 2011).
About Truth Wins Out
Truth Wins Out is a non-profit organization that fights anti-LGBT religious extremism and the "ex-gay" myth. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality.
Call to action
Demand that Apple remove "ex-gay" iPhone app. Sign Change.org's petition HERE.