Groundbreaking Lawsuit Challenges 'Ex-Gay' Therapy

The Southern Poverty Law Center accuses a New Jersey 'conversion therapy' practice of fraud and deception.

BY Trudy Ring

November 27 2012 7:57 PM ET

The suit names "ex-gay" therapy practice JONAH.

The Southern Poverty Law Center today filed suit against an “ex-gay” therapy practice based in New Jersey, alleging fraud and deceptive practices.

The suit charges that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (formerly Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality), its founder, Arthur Goldberg, and a counselor, Alan Downing, violated the state’s Consumer Fraud Act by making fraudulent and deceptive claims that the service could “cure” clients of being gay. SPLC, along with two law firms, filed the suit on behalf of four young men who had used the service and two of their parents.

This is the first time a “conversion therapy” practitioner has been directly sued for deceptive practices, SPLC officials said.

“JONAH profits off of shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn’t broken,” said SPLC deputy legal director Christine P. Sun. “Despite the consensus of mainstream professional organizations that conversion therapy doesn’t work, this racket continues to scam vulnerable gay men and lesbians out of thousands of dollars and inflicts significant harm on them.”

Also, conversion therapists base their work on the discredited assumption that being gay is a mental disorder. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the list of psychiatric disorders 40 years ago.

The suit, filed in New Jersey Superior Court in Jersey City, seeks the revocation of JONAH’s business license, restitution to the plaintiffs for the fees they paid, and damages. Find more information on it here.

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California plans to introduce a bill tomorrow that would ban the use of conversion therapy on minors nationwide. Her home state has already adopted such a ban. Speier will release more information at a press conference tomorrow morning.

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