America: judge rules gay conversion therapy is fraudulent

A New Jersey judge has ruled that gay conversion therapy is fraudulent.

Peter Variso Jr, Hudson County superior county court judge said in his ruling on a case concerning a group called Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) that the claims are illegal as per the state’s Consumer Fraud Act.

Such therapy is premised on the belief that homosexuality is a mental disorder.

David Dinielli, deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who sued JONAH on behalf of four men and two of their mothers after they alleged the methods do not work said: “This is the principal lie the conversion therapy industry uses throughout the country to peddle its quackery to vulnerable clients.

“Gay people don’t need to be cured, and we are thrilled that the court has recognized this.”

However, JONAH’s attorney, Charles LiMandri said the word “disorder” is not used in the psychological sense but as a term of Jewish law. He said he expected JONAH to win in June.

“They’re not your typical target of Consumer Fraud Act defendants who are making misrepresentations of people,” Mr LiMandri said.

He added: “They’re just trying to help people who are in distress get help if they want it. If they don’t want it, that’s fine.”

The men on whose behalf the law center brought the case said they were made to perform such acts as strip naked with other men while standing in a circle and to be naked with their fathers in bathhouses.

Mr LiMandri said, however, that the men did not finish the program.

The judge also ruled that JONAH could not call on supporters of the practice to testify that homosexuality is a disorder.

Chris Christie, a Republican governor, signed a ban that stops licensed therapists from engaging in gay conversion therapy for people under 18.

However, an appeal on that ban is pending at the US Supreme Court.

Mr Bariso also said it is fraudulent to provide success statistics on gay conversion because “there is no factual basis for calculating such statistics”.

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