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|Southern Poverty Law Center sues 'ex-gay therapy' provider for fraud|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|November 27, 2012 15:53|
The Southern Poverty Law Center today filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey “ex-gay therapy” organization, claiming that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), its founder, Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by providing conversion therapy claiming to cure clients of their sexual orientation.
“JONAH profits off of shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn’t broken,” said Christine P. Sun, deputy legal director for the SPLC, in a prepared statement released today. “Despite the consensus of mainstream professional organizations that conversion therapy doesn’t work, this racket continues to scam vulnerable gay men and lesbians out of thousands of dollars and inflicts significant harm on them.”
The SPLC says conversion therapy propagates the myth that sexual orientation is a choice, a position the SPLC says encourages anti-gay bigotry.
Ex-gay therapy has been widely discredited by many psychologists, and has been called “harmful” by the American Psychological Association.
Michael Ferguson, a conversion therapy survivor and one of the plaintiffs in the SPLC lawsuit, described the harm done to those who attend such sessions.
“Sadly, there is no accountability for those who practice conversion therapy,” said Ferguson. “They play blindly with deep emotions and create an immense amount of self-doubt for the client. They seize on your personal vulnerability, and tell you that being gay is synonymous with being less of a man. They further misrepresent themselves as having the key to your new orientation.”
Benjamin Unger, another plaintiff in the case, described the practice JONAH used during therapy sessions:
“These counselors are skilled at manipulating you into believing just about anything,” said Unger. “During my time with JONAH, they told me constantly that my mom had made me gay. I was so convinced that I refused to have any contact with her for several months, which caused a great deal of damage to our relationship.”
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