Gay Orthodox Jews & Mormon Sue JONAH Counsellors Who Promised To Make Them Straight

28/11/2012 17:32

Four gay men are suing an organisation which promised to "cure" their homosexuality when they were teenagers.

Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) describes itself as a non-profit international organisation, offering psychological and spiritual counselling starting at $100 for an individual session.

Its mission statement offers "those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions to journey out of homosexuality."


Chaim Levin, left and Michael Ferguson (centre, with his partner Seth Anderson)

A complaint was filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey against JONAH by the Southern Poverty Law Centre on behalf of the plaintiffs and two of their parents.

JONAH co-director Arthur Goldberg, and "life coach" Alan Downing were also named in the court papers.

The lawsuit also alleges JONAH "lured them into paying for counselling with deceptive practices," Think Progress said.

Chaim Levin says his mother Bella spent more than $10,000 on JONAH counselling for him over a period of 18 months.

He claims he was taken to a locked, mirrored room with a male counselor twice his age and was told to strip, the New York Daily News reported.

Benjamin Unger was order to beat a pillow with a tennis racquet while shouting "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!" and Sheldon Bruck was informed "as long as you put in the effort, you're going to change."


JONAH's online mission statement

Ferguson is from a Mormon background while the other three plaintiffs are from ultra orthodox Jewish families.

The so-called conversion therapy that JONAH practices is "unconscionable and a sham," Sam Wolfe, a staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said during a press conference on Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court of New Jersey Hudson County, seeks declaratory, injunctive and an undisclosed amount of monetary relief, as well as court costs, according to ABC News.

Ridiculous 'Cures' For Homosexuality
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