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Judge orders New Jersey ‘gay conversion therapy’ group to shut down

Judge orders New Jersey ‘gay conversion therapy’ group to shut down

A ‘gay conversion therapy’ provider has been ordered to shut down by a judge on Friday.

The New Jersey-based Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) was found guilty of consumer fraud and engaging in ‘unconscionable commercial practices’ in June by Peter Bariso Jr, a New Jersey superior court judge.

The lawsuit was brought by four men and two of their mothers who sued the group in 2012 for engaging in fraud when it claimed it could change the sexual orientation of its clients.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which helped spearhead the 2012 lawsuit, a settlement was reached on Friday for the group to permanently shut down and dissolve its corporate entity.

According to CBS News, state Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso ordered the group to cease all operations within 30 days and barred it from ‘engaging, whether directly or through referrals, in any therapy, counseling, treatment or activity that has the goal of changing, affecting or influencing sexual orientation, “same sex attraction” or ‘gender wholeness.”‘

David Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director, said in a statement, ‘JONAH’s conversion therapy program harmed countless LGBT people and their families.’

‘JONAH peddled discredited, pseudo-scientific treatments to people who weren’t sick, who weren’t broken, and who needed nothing but love and support.

‘The end of JONAH signals that conversion therapy, however packaged, is fraudulent – plain and simple. Other conversion therapy providers would be well-advised to examine what happened to JONAH, and to abandon their foolish efforts to make gay people straight.’

The four men told the court that as part of the program, they had to perform activities including being made to strip naked while standing in a circle with other men, being naked with their fathers at bathhouses, and participating in role-playing in which they were subjected to anti-gay slurs in a locker room setting.

‘Winning this case and finally coming to a conclusion is so much for me on a personal level as far as closure,’ said Benji Unger of Brooklyn, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

‘Services like JONAH can’t take people, promote a fraudulent practice, and have people go through this program and suffer through the program anymore,’ Unger was quoted as saying by CBS New York.