New Jersey Judge Orders Gay-Conversion Nonprofit to Close

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December 19, 2015; LGBTQ Nation

The New Jersey judicial system has been busy lately with notable nonprofit cases. As readers will recall, a New Jersey tax judge recently made judgments about the property tax exemptions of nonprofit hospitals and universities that have sent ripples of alarm out throughout the state and country.

Now a judge has ordered, through issuing a permanent injunction on Friday, that a gay-conversion nonprofit must close within 30 days. The New Jersey nonprofit was, in June, found to have violated consumer fraud laws, and a Hudson County jury had already awarded around $72,000 in damages to the plaintiffs.

State Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso ordered Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) to cease all operations within 30 days, also barring it from “engaging, whether directly or through referrals, in any therapy, counseling, treatment or activity that has the goal of changing, affecting or influencing sexual orientation, ‘same sex attraction’ or ‘gender wholeness.’”

David Dinielli, an attorney for the three individual plaintiffs, said the ruling reinforces to the public that the practice of gay conversion is fraudulent. “The practice of conversion therapy, at base, constitutes fraud,” he said. “It is premised on the lie that homosexuality is a disease or disorder. This case proved it to be a lie.”

One of the plaintiffs in this suit testified in court that he was told his mother caused his attraction to the same sex. He was encouraged to hit a pillow with a tennis racket pretending that it was his mother. He said that the “therapy” had caused him to cease communications with his mother for a while.

Licensed therapists have been prohibited from practicing conversion therapy in New Jersey since 2013, but the “therapists” at JONAH were not licensed. — Ruth McCambridge