"Conversion Therapy" Ruled Fradulent

[Content Note: Homophobia; abuse.]

More good news from the courts today, this time care of a state jury in New Jersey:
In a landmark victory, a state jury in New Jersey found today that a "conversion therapy" program offering services it claimed could change clients from gay to straight was fraudulent and unconscionable.

The jury ordered JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing), the group's founder, and a counselor to pay $72,400 to compensate five plaintiffs for fees they paid to the group and for mental health counseling one of the plaintiffs needed afterward.

The SPLC filed the lawsuit – Michael Ferguson, et al., v. JONAH – in 2012. Brought under New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act, the case was the first of its kind nationally. It was heard before Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr.

SPLC co-counsel were attorneys from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, and Lite DePalma Greenberg LLC.

The case was more about exposing consumer fraud than obtaining monetary damages.

"This verdict is a monumental moment in the movement to ensure the rights and acceptance of LGBT people in America," said David Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director. "Conversion therapy and homophobia are based on the same central lie – that gay people are broken and need to be fixed. Conversion therapists, including the defendants in this case, sell fake cures that don't work but can seriously harm the unsuspecting people who fall into this trap.

"We're proud of our clients, who survived these so-called treatments and had the courage to call to account the people who defrauded them with their false promises."

...Conversion therapy has been discredited by virtually every major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organization. Many who have undergone the therapy have reported increased anxiety, depression, and in some cases, suicidal ideation.

In a landmark pre-trial ruling on Feb. 5, the judge excluded several leading conversion therapy proponents, including Joseph Nicolosi and Christopher Doyle, from testifying as defense experts. Bariso ruled their opinions were based on the false premise that homosexuality is a disorder.

In a blistering opinion that garnered international media attention, Bariso wrote that "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is a disorder is not novel but – like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it – instead is outdated and refuted."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 judge will consider whether to cancel JONAH's business license, among other remedies, in the coming weeks.
Something tells me he's not going to be keen to leave in business the peddlers of a fraudulent business based on an "outdated and refuted" theory.

This is really terrific news, especially since this very case "helped spark legislation in Congress to protect consumers from conversion therapy nationwide."

Criminalizing conversion therapy, much like getting rid of the Confederate flag in public spaces, is not an endpoint but a beginning. Conversion therapy is a monetized model of the homophobic shaming and abuse that is the central feature of a heterocentric culture that arbitrarily privileges straightness, and we mustn't regard rulings against conversion therapy as being more meaningful than what is really is; what will be truly meaningful is dismantling the homophobic culture that drives people to seek conversion therapy in the first place.

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus