Quack Jewish ‘gay cure’ outfit is forced to cease operating
Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a New Jersey-based organisation set up in 1999 with the aim of ‘curing’ homosexuality, has been forced to wind down its operations as a result of losing a landmark court battle.
Established by a couple of Berks – Theodore and Elaine Berk, to be precise, aided and abetted by Arthur and Jane Goldberg – JONAH was judged by a jury earlier this year to have violated state consumer fraud law by claiming it could help change clients’ sexual orientations from gay to straight.
The plaintiffs in the civil action – including three of the organisation’s former clients – said therapists recommended by JONAH had subjected them to humiliating treatments, including stripping in front of a therapist and re-enacting scenes of past sexual abuse during group therapy sessions.
On Friday, Judge Peter F Bariso Jr granted a permanent injunction after both sides reached a settlement requiring JONAH to cease operations, permanently dissolve as a corporate entity, and liquidate all its assets.
David Dinielli, Deputy Legal Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said in a statement:
The end of JONAH signals that conversion therapy, however packaged, is fraudulent – plain and simple.
The center filed the lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs.
One of the plaintiffs, Michael Ferguson, pictured top, right, with a second plaintiff, Chaim Levin, added:
Gay conversion therapy stole years from my life, and nearly stole my life. My hope is that others can be spared the unneeded harm that comes from the lies the defendants and those like them spread.
Conversion therapy has been rejected by major health organisations, including the American Psychiatric Association, which in 1973 removed homosexuality from the list of disorders in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Last year, Leelah Alcorn, above, a transgender teen, committed suicide in Ohio after participating in conversion therapy, inspiring a campaign for a federal ban on the practice.
In a pre-trial decision in February, Judge Bariso wrote:
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is a disorder is not novel – but like the notion that the earth is flat and the sun revolves around it – instead is outdated and refuted.
JONAH”s website, still functioning this morning, says in its mission statement that it is:
A non-profit international organization dedicated to educating the world-wide Jewish community about the social, cultural and emotional factors which lead to same-sex attractions. JONAH works with those struggling with unwanted same-sex sexual attractions (SSA) and with families whose loved ones are involved in homosexuality.
Our Rabbinical sages explain that because mankind has been endowed by our Creator with a free will, everyone has the capacity to change. Furthermore, the Rabbis emphasize that parents, teachers and counselors have a special responsibility to educate, nurture, and provide an opportunity for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions to journey out of homosexuality.
Through psychological and spiritual counseling, peer support, and self-empowerment, JONAH seeks to reunify families, to heal the wounds surrounding homosexuality, and to provide hope.
Update: Almost two dozen pastors and citizens packed the Cincinnati Council Chambers in an organised effort to stop a proposed city ban on so-called “conversion” therapy for gay youth.
In the end, the council voted 7-2 to pass the law, which prohibits therapy designed to change sexual orientation or gender identity for minors, and imposes a $200-a-day fine on violators.
Cincinnati follows four states – California, Oregon, Illinois and New Jersey – and the District of Columbia banning the therapy, becoming the first city outside of D.C. to do so.