Therapists condemn ‘gay-cure’ app still available at Google Play

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Apple withdrew it after international outcry, but a gay-cure app condemned by psychotherapists as dangerous is still available at Google Play, Pink News reports.

The app, called Setting Captives Free, promotes a 60-day course that claims to cure homosexuality. “Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, you do not have a ‘homosexual gene,’ nor were you born this way with no hope of freedom,” the app claims. “You can be set free from the bondage of homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ and the cross!”

Gaylesta, The LGBTQ Psychotherapist Association of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, is calling on Google to pull it, the report says.

The association’s statement reads, “Gaylesta has been outspoken and active in exposing the dangers of so called ‘reparative therapy.’ Homosexuality is not a condition or disorder that requires treatment. Striving to treat what is not a disorder is not therapy, it is professionalized homophobia. It is dangerous, and it is a threat to all LGBTQ people.

“Individuals who have undergone these treatments often have a significantly larger chance of becoming self destructive and suicidal,” the statement continues. “It is unconscionable to think that a smartphone application could be made available to the general public to help ‘treat’ homosexuality. This app poses a serious public health risk, putting the lives of unsuspecting people, including minors, at risk of harm, by telling them that their innate sexual orientation is wrong and needs to be changed. We ask that all smartphone application stores (including Google Play and iTunes) remove these applications from their stores immediately and that they further make it a policy to disallow such applications from being available in the future.”

Pink News notes that an All Out petition, calling on Google Play to ban the app, had garnered close to its target of 150,000 signatures.

Google is reportedly looking into the complaints about the app.

A number of ex-gay movement leaders have also distanced themselves from the “change-is-possible” mantra, including former chairman of Exodus John Paulk and Exodus International head Alan Chambers.

In May last year, none other than retired psychiatrist Robert Spitzer retracted claims he’d made in a controversial 2001 study that “highly motivated” gays and lesbians could change their sexual orientation. “In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct,” Spitzer said.

Natasha Barsotti is originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. She had high aspirations of representing her country in Olympic Games sprint events, but after a while the firing of the starting gun proved too much for her nerves. So she went off to university instead. Her first professional love has always been journalism. After pursuing a Master of Journalism at UBC , she began freelancing at Xtra West — now Xtra Vancouver — in 2006, becoming a full-time reporter there in 2008.

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