New Jersey judge: Gay conversion therapy is consumer fraud

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

Therapy to ‘turn’ gay people straight has been ruled consumer fraud by a judge in New Jersey.

Four men are suing Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), claiming that they were forced to take part in sexualised activities such as stripping naked while surrounded by a group of men.

Ruling in the case today, Judge Peter Bariso Jr of Hudson County Superior Court found that the conversion therapy offered by the group violated the Consumer Fraud Act, by inaccurately describing homosexuality as a mental illness, disease, or disorder.

Therapy sessions at JONAH cost £65 per session. One of the men, who was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, was forced to masturbate while the therapist watched to ‘make him straight’.

Judge Bariso said: “The theory that homosexuality is a disorder is not novel but like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it—instead is outdated and refuted.”

The ruling is the first time in the US that a court has found it fraudulent for therapists to claim that homosexuality is a disorder.

David Dinielli of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who represented the four men, said: “This ruling is monumental and devastating to the conversion therapy industry.

“For the first time, a court has ruled that it is fraudulent as a matter of law for conversion therapists to tell clients that they have a mental disorder that can be cured.

“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.”