Can "conversion therapy" turn gay people straight? Of course not. That's just dumb. But that doesn't stop advantageous bigots from offering such services, and it doesn't stop sadly delusional subjects from taking them up on the offer.
*See Also: The Gay Selma
Tuesday in New Jersey Superior Court, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), claiming that the organization's founder, Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing violated New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act by offering conversion therapy that claims to cure clients of being gay.
According to the SPLC, the lawsuit marks the first time a conversion therapy provider has been sued for fraudulent business practices -- and considering the claims made by conversion therapy providers, it's about damn time.
Previously, JONAH was known as Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are four men who, according to SPLC, were "lured into JONAH's services through deceptive practices," and two of their mothers.
According to a statement from the SPLC on the lawsuit:
The lawsuit describes how the underlying premise of conversion therapy - that a person can "convert" to heterosexuality - has no basis in scientific fact. Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations. It is the longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences that homosexuality is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation.
Customers of JONAH's services typically pay a minimum of $100 for weekly individual counseling sessions and another $60 for group therapy sessions. The lawsuit describes sessions that involved clients undressing in front of a mirror and even a group session where young men were instructed to remove their clothing and stand naked in a circle with the counselor, Downing, who was also undressed. Another session involved a subject attempting to wrest away two oranges, which were used to represent testicles, from another individual.
Also according to the SPLC, tactics utilized by JONAH to turn gay folks straight include blaming parents for a child's homosexuality, going as far as to have participants in the conversion therapy engage in "violent role play exercises where they beat effigies of their mothers."
More from the SPLC:
"These counselors are skilled at manipulating you into believing just about anything," said Benjamin Unger, another plaintiff in the case. "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."
As mentioned above, it's about time someone called out outfits like JONAH on their ridiculous, hurtful shit.