How to cure homosexuality? It’s a dilemma that has puzzled maniacs for eons. Hypnotism, flagellation, aerosol sprays and guilt have been tested and failed, so it was merely a matter of time before we found a cure in an iPhone app.

A free app from Exodus International, which claims to be ‘the world’s largest ministry to (sic) individuals and families impacted by homosexuality,’ offers ‘Real Stories’ and ‘Real answers’ for people suffering from attraction to the same gender and want to climb back in the closet.

The app has got a lot of attention from homosexuals too, just not very positive attention. It’s managed to chalk up 40,000 names on a petition for its removal from iTunes. It’s a little marketing body blow for Apple, that puts the tech giant in a tough position on where to draw the line with censorship.

“Unlike the Android app store, Apple vets every app that's sold over the app store,” online editor of Macworld Tim Grey tells Marketing magazine. “They control what goes up reasonably tightly, partly to ensure no nasties get through – apps that impinge on consumer privacy or provide 'inappropriate content' like pornography – but also as a kind of quality control to ensure apps are up to Apple's standards. Apple has been reasonably puritanical in the past, with Steve Jobs himself saying he doesn't want his kids looking at porn on an iPhone, so it's only fair that other offensive material be picked up too.”  

Grey says the Apple censor net doesn’t capture everything, and the Exodus app was well camouflaged as something else.

“I imagine Exodus slipped through because on the surface it's a nice, well-meaning Christian app that turned out to be homophobic,” he says. “It could also have been approved because it's a slippery ethical area. However, seeing as the acting CEO is gay, I'd expect the app's approval was simply an oversight.”

Grey says some apps do get rejected, but about 95% are approved within two weeks of application. He remembers a similar scenario last year, when an anti-gay app called ‘The Manhattan Declaration’ was made available, but later removed due to complaints. Although the app is still available on iTunes, Grey doesn’t think it will last long, and Apple’s reputation is unlikely to take a hit.

“Apple's never had any issues with intolerance in the past and they'll remove any offensive material quick-smart,” Grey tells Marketing magazine. “On a more cynical note, even if they didn't correct their behaviour, previous bouts of terrible press – poor sustainability records, leaks, deaths in the manufacturing process, accusations of anti-competitive behaviour, being told they're not cool anymore – haven't stopped Apple from being the largest tech company on the planet. Do you have an iPhone?”

Yes, I do.