US: Judge rules against ‘gay cure’ therapy group, could force them to pay damages

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A judge in New Jersey has ruled against a group which practised ‘gay cure’ conversion therapy, ruling that they could be liable to pay damages to people affected.

Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), which claim to be able to cure homosexuality, are the subject of multiple lawsuits over claims their therapy is harmful.

According to LGBTQ Nation, on Friday Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso ruled that JONAH could be liable to pay three times the therapy costs of four men, who say they were left with psychological damage after JONAH’s program.

According to court documents, as part of the therapy men were at points required to strip naked in front of eachother, to beat an effigy of their mother, and to recite words said by people who had in the past abused them.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the lawsuit against the group, founder Arthur Goldberg and counsellor Alan Downing in 2012, alleging they violated the Consumer Fraud Act.

Legal director David Dinielli said: “These self-proclaimed experts inflicted grave damage upon our clients, who believed JONAH’s claims that it could ‘cure’ them of being gay.”

“These young men were left with guilt, shame and frustration.

“No amount of money can fix the damage JONAH caused, but recognizing that JONAH can be held accountable for the cost of repairing that damage is an important step.”

The trial against JONAH is expected to take place next year.

Yesterday, the Texas Republican party endorsed ‘gay cure’ therapy in its state platform, and pledged to defend the practice from all attempts to regulate or ban it.