( San Francisco, CA, June 25, 2015 )—After hours of deliberations, a New Jersey jury found Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing ( JONAH ) liable for consumer fraud. JONAH, a group that promised gay men that it would turn them into heterosexuals, was sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2012 under New Jersey's consumer fraud law.
The closely-watched trial unveiled the deplorable and inhumane techniques JONAH used to "convert" the men. The verdict comes on the heels of President Obama's remarks on Wednesday—at the annual White House Pride reception—about conversion therapy: "I support efforts to ban conversion therapy for minors. It has no basis in science. Every young person—no matter who they are or what they look like or what gender they identify as—deserves to be valued and loved for who they are.
Statement from National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) Senior Staff Attorney Christopher Stoll:
"Today's verdict is a major victory in the fight to end the shameful and deceptive practice of conversion therapy. Too often, vulnerable young people and their families are lured into believing the false promises offered by groups like JONAH that they can 'cure' gay people by changing their sexual orientation or gender identity. Today's verdict sends a clear message to those who seek to prey on the fears of those who are just beginning to come to terms with their sexual orientation or gender identity: if you falsely promise a non-existent 'cure' for a disease that does not exist, you will be held responsible. We congratulate our colleagues at the Southern Poverty Law Center for this important victory."
NCLR has been at the forefront of efforts to protect youth and their families from conversion therapy for more than two decades and, alongside the Human Rights Campaign and state equality groups, has helped pass legislation in California, New Jersey, Oregon, and the District of Columbia. NCLR launched its #BornPerfect campaign last year to stop conversion therapy across the country by 2019 by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by attempts to change a young person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
Learn more about the #BornPerfect campaign at www.NCLRights.org/BornPerfect .