New Jersey Gay Conversion Therapy Group Charged With Fraud

A New Jersey jury found today that a gay conversion therapy group, JONAH, is guilty of defrauding their patients and may be forced to pay former patients upwards of $25,000 in damages each.

During the trial, JONAH wasn’t allowed to present expert testimony because, as Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso, Jr. said, “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is a disorder is not novel but — like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it — instead is outdated and refuted.” And indeed: The American Psychiatric Association found in a resolution issued in 2007 that “there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation,” and “the benefits reported by participants in sexual orientation change efforts can be gained through approaches that do not attempt to change sexual orientation.”

Bariso also indicated to the jury before deliberation this morning to, then, take it as a fact – because the scientific community does – that homosexuality is not a mental illness, and that conversion therapy has no significant success rate (it doesn’t, according to the APA). Therefore, if the jury found that JONAH told its clients that homosexuality is a “mental illness, disease, disorder or something equivalent,” or if JONAH had indicated a success rate with conversion therapy, they had lied to and defrauded their clients. JONAH had not given specific numbers about a success rate, but its founder, Arthur Goldberg, had claimed a “general success rate” of about two-thirds. The jury decided against JONAH within hours.

The SPLC and the GLBTQA community are counting this case as a huge win for equal rights. President Obama has recently supported efforts to ban conversion therapy, and this case could open the door for states to do so.

 

[Salon]

[ThinkProgress (1), (2)]

[American Psychiatric Foundation]

[Washington Post]

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]
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