close and back to page

Latest News

Latest News

Conversion Therapy Is Fraud: N.J. Judge

In a first-of-its-kind ruling, a New Jersey Superior Court judge says that providers of conversion therapy who advertise that homosexuality can be cured are committing consumer fraud.

By Albert Lin


In what many are calling a landmark decision, a New Jersey judge has ruled that people who, in advertising conversion-therapy services, describe homosexuality as a disorder that can be cured are committing consumer fraud. It is the first time a United States court has found that homosexuality is not a disorder.

The ruling by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter F. Barsio Jr. was on a motion in a suit filed against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a Jersey City organization that believes people can "journey out of homosexuality." Barsio also ruled that touting success rates is fraudulent because "there is no factual basis for calculating such statistics."

"This ruling is monumental and devastating to the conversion-therapy industry," said David Dinielli, Deputy Legal Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is a party to the suit. "For the first time, a court has ruled that it is fraudulent as a matter of law for conversion therapists to tell clients that they have a mental disorder that can be cured. This is the principal lie the conversion-therapy industry uses throughout the country to peddle its quackery to vulnerable clients. Gay people don't need to be cured, and we are thrilled that the court has recognized this."

This is the latest blow to the conversion-therapy movement. In 2012, California became the first state to ban conversion therapy for anyone under 18. That law was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2013, New Jersey became the second state to pass a ban. Several other states are either working on or considering legislation to ban conversion therapy.

Moreover, in June 2013, Exodus International, the nation's leading "ex-gay" organization, disbanded because of growing skepticism about the efficacy of conversion therapy. "Any good we could do in the future would be greatly overshadowed by the real stories of trauma and real stories of shame," President Alan Chambers said. "So we decided, we can't do anything but close this down."

A Myth That Belongs in the 'Dustbins of History'

Barsio's order includes the following passages:

• "It is a misrepresentation in violation of the CFA [Consumer Fraud Act], in advertising or selling conversion-therapy services, to describe homosexuality, not as being a normal variation of human sexuality, but as being a mental illness, disease, disorder, or equivalent thereof."

• "It is a misrepresentation in violation of the CFA, in advertising or selling conversion-therapy services, to include specific 'success' statistics when there is no factual basis for calculating such statistics, e.g., when client outcomes are not tracked and no records of client outcomes are maintained."

"The judge's determination today that it is a misrepresentation to tell consumers that homosexuality is a disorder is an important step forward in this case and also a victory for showing that conversion-therapy proponents lack any valid basis to continue to promote their abusive practices," said James L. Bromley, a Partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, one of the plaintiffs' co-counsels. "The harmful myth that gay people are sick or damaged belongs in the dustbin of history."

Charles LiMandri, President and Chief Counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, which is representing JONAH, told NJ.com that JONAH did not make money from conversion therapy and merely referred people to private therapists, nor did it advertise any sort of success rates.

He added that the therapists are not licensed and often are clergy, so they are not qualified to identify homosexuality as a disorder "in a scientific sense."

"This is not a situation in which people are forced into something they don't want to do. They are trying to deprive plaintiffs of freedom of choice. Americans want people to have the right to free self determination," he said. "I believe when the jury hears all the facts, they will ultimately decide in favor of our clients."

Barsio previously ruled that JONAH would not be able to call five expert witnesses because "the overwhelming weight of scientific authority concludes that homosexuality is not a disorder or abnormal … [so] expert opinions to the contrary must be barred."

The plaintiffs in the case say that in therapy sessions they were coerced into behavior such as stripping naked and beating images of their mother. They were also called homophobic slurs as part of locker-room and gym simulations.

The case will go to trial this summer.

Transgender People Reject Bigoted Policy​, Say They #WontBeErased​

The Trump administration proposes that government agencies should define sex as "a person's status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth."

REUTERS

#WontBeErased hashtag erupted hours after The New York Times reported the Trump administration's push via a memo for a new legal definition of gender, which would essentially eradicate the estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a different gender than the one assigned assigned at birth.

Read More Show Less

Laverne Cox ‘Angered’ and ‘Saddened’ as Cops Continue Deadnaming Murdered Trans Women

"Jacksonville, Florida and other jurisdictions don't have policies in place to respect gender identities," Cox wrote.

REUTERS

Four Black trans women in Jacksonville, Fla., have been shot, three of them fatally, over the past six months. Two were shot inside their hotel room, and the last was killed outside an abandoned house.

Read More Show Less

Lesbian Latina Sets Out to Make History and Oust Anti-LGBT Texas Gov.

Lupe Valdez, former sheriff of Dallas County, is the first openly gay and Latina to win a major party nomination for governor in Texas.

REUTERS

A new sheriff may soon be in town in Texas, and she's already making history.

Read More Show Less

Vickers "Vic" Cunningham, a former Dallas judge who's running in the Republican primary runoff election for Dallas county commissioner on Tuesday, decided to provide his children a monetary incentive to condone homophobia and racism. Cunningham set up a living trust with a clause rewarding his children if they marry a white, straight Christian.

Read More Show Less

Janelle Monáe Opens Up About 'Being a Queer Black Woman in America'

"I consider myself to be a free-ass motherf***er," the singer said.

REUTERS

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Janelle Monáe came out as pansexual — and she's owning her identity.

Read More Show Less

Ben Carson's HUD to Scrub Anti-Discrimination Language from Mission Statement

As the Trump administration seeks to cut HUD's funding, the agency is aligning its mission with "the secretary's priorities."

A year after beginning his position of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, Ben Carson has decided that it's time to update the agency's mission statement and remove words and phrases like "inclusion" and "free from discrimination."

Read More Show Less

'Being Proud to Be a Gay Black Female' Is a Revolutionary Act, Says Lena Waithe

Waithe, an award-winning television writer, uses her platform to promote self-acceptance and equality.

REUTERS

Actress, producer and screenwriter Lena Waithe, a gay Black woman, has not only made history in Hollywood, but continues to use her platform to encourage and inspire other Black LGBTQ people to be their authentic selves.

Read More Show Less