Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New Jersey Court: "Ex-Gay" Ministry's Claims ViolateState Consumer Protection Laws

This blog has long attacked the fraudulent lies of "ex-gay" therapists and "ministries" that prey upon distraught parents and often self-loathing gays for the purpose of raking in cash and fostering anti-gay propaganda.  I've put my money where my mouth is so to speak by helping expose "ex-gay" frauds such as Michael Johnston who was once a protege of Jerry Falwell and featured in a national anti-gay campaign funded by a who's who of the far right.  Now, a court in New Jersey has ruled that ex-gay ministries that depict homosexuality as curable disorder violate that state's consumer protection laws.  The Court's ruling can be found here.  Here are highlights from a Southern Poverty Law Center press release:
A New Jersey Superior Court judge has ruled misrepresenting homosexuality as a disorder in marketing conversion therapy services violates the state’s consumer protection laws – a devastating ruling for the conversion therapy industry, which claims to “convert” people from gay to straight, the Southern Poverty Law Center announced today.

The ruling marks the first time a court in the United States has found that homosexuality is not a disease or a disorder and that it is fraudulent for conversion therapists to make such a claim. Superior Court Judge Peter F. Barsio Jr. found that it “is a misrepresentation in violation of [New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act], in advertising or selling conversion therapy services, to describe homosexuality, not as being a normal variation of human sexuality, but as being a mental illness, disease, disorder, or equivalent thereof.”

The ruling is part of the consumer fraud lawsuit filed by the SPLC against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a New Jersey-based conversion therapy provider. The suit claims the group used deceptive practices to lure plaintiffs into their costly services for gay-to-straight therapy that can cost in excess of $10,000 a year.

“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.”

The judge also ruled that JONAH is in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act if it offers specific success statistics for its services when “client outcomes are not tracked and no records of client outcomes are maintained” because “there is no factual basis for calculating such statistics.” Evidence at the upcoming trial this summer will show that JONAH has misrepresented that their conversion therapy works based on bogus statistics.

“The judge’s determination today that it is a misrepresentation to tell consumers that homosexuality is a disorder is an important step forward in this case and also a victory for showing that conversion therapy proponents lack any valid basis to continue to promote their abusive practices,” said SPLC co-counsel James L. Bromley, a partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.

It should also be noted that one of JONAH's founders is a convicted felon who went to prison for fraudulent securities claims.   I hope more lawsuits of this type are filed against the charlatans who engage in these bogus "ministries."  A suit against "Marcia" Bachmann's clinic would be too fun!!

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