Gay conversion therapy group must shut, orders Judge

A Jersey City gay conversion therapy group has been ordered to permanently shut down by a US judge. It was in 2012 when several men, aided by The Southern Poverty Law Center, filed the original lawsuit against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), accusing them of making fraudulent claims to covert the sexuality of gay people, writes Gay Star News. New Jersey superior court judge Peter Bariso Jnr found JONAH guilty of “engaging in unconscionable commercial practices” back in June, with a jury awarding $72,400 in damages to the plaintiffs, with a proposed $3.5million award of legal fees. An undisclosed settlement was also reached on Friday December 18, Bariso Jnr has also ordered the group to end all operations within 30 days. The ban forbids JONAH 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,” reports CBS News. With proceedings “finally coming to a conclusion,” Benji Unger, one of the four plaintiffs in the case, said he now had a sense of closure on a personal level. “Services like JONAH can’t take people, promote a fraudulent practice, and have people go through this program and suffer,” he said. While undergoing treatment, the group had advised the men to spend more time naked with their fathers, and participate in locker room style role-plays where they were the targets of anti-gay slurs. Gay Star News adds that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a ban in 2013 banning licensed therapists from performing gay conversion therapy for patients under 18 in 2013, which has been upheld despite multiple legal challenges.