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Four Gay Men Sue 'Ex-Gay' Organization JONAH, Talk About the Lawsuit with CNN: VIDEO


Four gay men sued the NJ "ex-gay" organization JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing) yesterday, the AP reports:

Three of the men at the news conference are Jewish, and the fourth is a Mormon now living in Salt Lake City who was a college student in New York when he signed up for the services.

Speaking for the men at Tuesday’s news conference were attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery, Ala.-based civil rights organization.

“JONAH profits off of shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn’t broken,” said Christine P. Sun, the center’s deputy legal director. “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.”

CNN adds: Sun

Bruck and three male plaintiffs contend they were defrauded by JONAH's claim that "being gay is a mental disorder" that could be reversed by conversion therapy -- "a position rejected by the American Psychiatric Association four decades ago," the lawsuit said.

The therapy, which can cost up to $10,000 a year, put them at risk of "depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior," while giving them no benefits, the suit said.

Jo Bruck, Sheldon's mother, and Bella Levin, the mother of plaintiff Chaim Levin, are also plaintiffs because they paid for their sons' conversion therapy and the counseling the suit said they needed to recover from it.

The conversion therapy techniques included having them strip naked in group sessions, cuddling and intimate holding of others of the same-sex, violently beating an effigy of their mothers with a tennis racket, visiting bath houses "in order to be nude with father figures," and being "subjected to ridicule as 'faggots' and 'homos' in mock locker room scenarios," the suit said.

Watch CNN speak with plaintiff Michael Ferguson and SPLC's Sun, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. that's the most effed-up collection of "therapies" i've ever heard.

    oh, but i don't think the parents should suing. it's their damn fault their kids went into this.

    you shoulda called PFLAG instead of calling these bigots, parents.

    what's worth noting are the bogus affront-to-intellect practices:

    beating mother figures? bathhouse cruising with father figures!?!? ( dunno. i'm pretty darn gay and my dad and i have a great relationship, but that doesnt' mean we go to the baths together....barf).

    but the insults in a mock locker-room are the icing on the proverbial cake. if anti-gay bullying and bigotry made you straight, then the "femmes" that insecure straight men, and cowardly testicle-deprived homosexual males, mock and belittle would be converted to heterosexuality already.


    that's so sick.
    "hey, we're gonna throw insults at you. get used to it. unless you change you'll get them forever"

    part of me is actually glad, in hindsight, that i was on the receiving end of bullying and anti-gay hatred when i was young. took my lumps early, and hard, and built up a thick skin.

    someone calling you a "faggot" can't hurt you when you have the confidence in yourself to be proud of who you are.

    see also: closeted trolls calling you "fem"

    oh, no! a not-Out adult called me a fem! i'm gonna go out and meet a gay man to make out with in public to get over the pain. ;-)

    but yeah. this therapy sounds like masturbation-material for the perverted liars who run this group. feh.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Nov 28, 2012 9:36:14 AM

  2. As they say, one is born every minute.

    Posted by: Manny Espinola | Nov 28, 2012 9:58:30 AM

  3. They should be suing their parents too.

    Posted by: KuMiCu | Nov 28, 2012 10:10:53 AM

  4. I'd like to believe that the plaintiffs conspired to go through the therapy so that they could sue the 'practitioner' and expose the fraud. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

    Posted by: Sigmund | Nov 28, 2012 10:21:48 AM

  5. First, my applause to Wolf Blitzer who kept a completely objective face. I would have been wearing a WTF expression the whole time.

    As far as the lawsuit is concerned: I applaud the lawyer for representing the plaintiffs and hopefully putting JONAH out of business through court costs if nothing else. But for this to be a case of fraud you'd need much more than simply evidence that JONAH's techniques didn't work for these plaintiffs, or even evidence that professional groups dismiss such practices. Plaintiffs have to prove that JONAH *knew* that their services would not work, i.e. that they knew and intentionally misrepresented sexuality as a mutable characteristic changeable through therapy. The opinions of professional organizations, and all the millions of anecdotal stories by those who are gay, are not enough to meet the knowledge element. The plaintiffs put the court in a difficult position: either it has to find that being gay is immutable (and courts hate making proclamations in areas that are socially contentious--they prefer the legislature do that), or it is establishing precedent that opens the door to dozens of cases by people who got therapy but weren't cured. It seems a stronger case would go after the practices of JONAH (infliction of emotional distress maybe?). It might not be as symbolically resonant (i.e. we win because being gay is not a disorder or a thing to be cured), but it's more likely to get the money back, cause a financial hit, and curb some of the more pernicious techniques JONAH uses.

    Posted by: Stefan | Nov 28, 2012 10:22:18 AM

  6. Watching that video and reading literature on the topic makes me sick. Hopefully the lawsuit will help put an end to those practices.
    Yet, I struggle with the adult participants in those absurd treatments. Why do they keep going to those group therapy sessions?

    Posted by: Luke | Nov 28, 2012 10:22:24 AM

  7. Good! I hope they win, I bet their chances are pretty good (tho I'm not a lawyer).

    Maybe if this happens enough, these organizations will have to shut down.

    Posted by: Lucas H | Nov 28, 2012 10:29:25 AM

  8. Stefan, I second your comment about Blitzer. Unfortunately, JONAH sincerely believes its lies.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Nov 28, 2012 10:32:39 AM

  9. Very good analysis as usual Stefan, thank you. Hopefully this suit does irreparably harm JONAS and in turn, I hope gay men out there who are struggling with accepting who they are can see that ex-gay therapy is not the answer.

    Posted by: Francis | Nov 28, 2012 11:19:59 AM

  10. Call me a voyeur, but I am eager to see the "converted" examples of "the cured" who will be produced in Court to show the efficacy of this therapy, or as Little Kiwi rightly calls it, "masturbation-material".

    And STEFAN, unless JONAH can produce such convincing 'converted' examples then knowledge can be implied of their deceptive practices.

    It would be even more interesting to get discovery of all their files of their clients, whether or not they are plaintiffs, redacted of identities, which may well disclose an intractable failure of their system to 'convert' in most ,if not all, of their attempted cases.
    It seems to me that to rebut allegations of fraud , JONAH will have to put all their conversion of clients in issue or at least as evidence.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Nov 28, 2012 11:46:53 AM

  11. Jesus... how about instead of fraud, more of a human rights/torture bent. I mean, subjecting people to abuse in the locker room scenario and forcing people to strip naked for therapy sessions sounds a little like torture to me.

    the people that ran this crap need to be sequestered from society permanently

    Posted by: MaddM@ | Nov 28, 2012 12:16:46 PM

  12. Has a detail or two been left out of the conversion "therapy" description? Cuddling and holding others of the same sex might push people away from being gay if it had been combined with continual physical punishment or homophobic insults. How do we know the bath house visits don't encourage incestuous relationships with one's father? And if gay behavior is attributed to bad parental influence, why doesn't a father effigy ever get the tennis racket beating treatment?

    Posted by: Peter | Nov 28, 2012 12:18:00 PM

  13. Actually, to prove simple fraud you just need to show that the customers were misled in some way. You don't have to make a large claim, like the therapy itself is worthless, but perhaps only that a deliverable under the contract was never going to happen. The level of proof required depends on state law. The intent to mislead can be inferred by the actions of the defendants. Most cases of simple fraud are easy to spot, like a used car salesman rolling back the odometer. It also does not matter that in some cases there were satisfied customers, as that is not a defense. Again, if the salesmen only occasionally rolled back the odometer it would still be fraud.

    Posted by: anon | Nov 28, 2012 1:10:59 PM

  14. Why bother with worrying about the future of JONAH? If the pattern of history is consistent, two of the guys running JONAH will be running off to get married any day now.

    Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC | Nov 28, 2012 1:18:45 PM

  15. These anti-gay Christians/Jews are priest and psychotherapist who torture LGBT people as part of their "therapy". These anti-gay people are criminals and need to be brought to justice just like the Catholic priest who rape and abuse children. Stop the madness of blaming parents for their gay children and teaching the child to beat their parents, that is just plain crazy.

    Posted by: Rick | Nov 28, 2012 5:01:27 PM

  16. I blame the parents for brainwashing the plaintiffs as kids, and I blame government policies that allow parents to send kids to two decades of brainwashing seminars whic deprive them of a proper education.
    With the ability to speak English and a knowledge of how to access legitimate professional and legal information, any of these men should have been able find out in two minutes flat that the director of JONAH is a convicted felon, that "ex-gay therapy" is fraudulent and, most important, that there is nothing inherently wrong with being gay.
    It doesn't sound like they have any idea how to actually find scientific information about a topic (and at some point in their maturity, we have to hold them somewhat accountable for their own choice to partake in this.)

    Posted by: GregV | Nov 28, 2012 10:00:47 PM

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