JONAH is Consumer Fraud

Sam Wolfe, a staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, says that gay-conversion therapy should be exposed for what it is: consumer fraud

SamWolfeGay conversion therapy went on public trial this summer, with a cast of Mormon and Jewish witnesses testifying about the practice, including plaintiff Michael Ferguson of Salt Lake City. At trial, the Southern Poverty Law Center in the case Ferguson vs. JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing), proved what most people now understand: “Therapies” that purport to change sexual orientation are a sham. They do not work, they’re unscientific and can cause serious psychological harm. They also amount to consumer fraud.

A jury in New Jersey unanimously determined that JONAH’s conversion therapy amounted to an unconscionable business practice and was consumer fraud. JONAH falsely claimed it had converted hundreds of people from gay to straight. Clients who testified for JONAH about their “success,” revealed just the opposite: Despite years of effort and expense, the men generally admitted to remaining primarily sexually attracted to other men, despite sometimes marrying women. JONAH could not offer testimony from a single client whose sexual orientation had transformed through its program.

Witnesses in the closely watched trial included Jeff Bennion and Preston Dahlgren, of TLC’s program, “My Husband’s ‘Not’ Gay.” They lead North Star, a Utah-based group that serves “same-sex attracted” individuals who don’t identify as gay and wish to remain close to the Mormon church.

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