The Southern Poverty Law Center has won a landmark battle in its consumer fraud lawsuit against the New Jersey-based “ex-gay” group JONAH.
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.
Last week the same court ruled that JONAH could not call “ex-gay experts” as witnesses as their testimony would be mere “incestuous validation” of each others’ research. Hit the first link and read much more about today’s win. See the full ruling here. Maggie Gallagher is the chairperson of the legal group defending JONAH.