Apple’s Poor Choice in Rejecting Gay App

iPhonesApple received a 100% rating on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, a rank of companies based on their treatment of LGBT employees. The company has an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy and partner benefits, and is generally considered to be LGBT-friendly.

But a recent move by Apple may call into question the company’s stance on LGBT issues. For the second time, Apple rejected the app “Gay New York: 101 Can’t-Miss Places.”

The application violated Section 3.3.17 of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement, which states that “Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.”

The “Gay New York” application includes some photographs that could be considered more adult-oriented, but are representative of some elements of gay culture. For example, one image, illustrating a gay bar, included a muscular guy in a thong. Apple also objected to a fairly harmless caricature of Sarah Palin contained in the app.

This isn’t the first time that Apple has been accused of discrimination or political bias in its app choices. It allowed Sports Illustrated‘s Swimsuit Edition app and an app from Playboy while denying other apps with sexual content. Why was the “Gay New York” app rejected when apps with much more obscene photographs were permitted?

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, has stated his belief that Apple has a “moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” Why is Jobs controlling what content users see? While it’s not completely clear why the “Gay New York” app was rejected, the app should be allowed. Apple should not be injecting itself into culture or morality by determining which apps are morally suitable for its users.

Photo credit: Dan Taylor