Legal bid to close gay conversion clinic

By Megan Malloy

29 November 2012 at 12:14 BST

Four men have filed a civil suit against a New Jersey group that claims to convert homosexual men to heterosexuality.

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The group -- Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (Jonah) -- is charged with deceptive practices under the state's Consumer Fraud Act, according to The New York Times.

Emotionally scared

The Southern Poverty Law Centre is filing the suit on behalf of their clients, who claim that they are emotionally scarred from humiliating exercises, including beating effigies of their mothers and stripping in front of counsellors. The suit is demanding that Jonah be closed and financial compensation for the former clients, many of whom have sought professional therapy as a result of counselling.
Jonah did not respond directly to the law suit. However, the newspaper says the group describes itself as ‘dedicated to educating the worldwide Jewish community about the social, cultural and emotional factors that lead to same-sex attractions’. It goes on to say that the goup claims to work ‘directly with those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions’.

California challenge

In a related development, a new California state law banning gay ‘conversion therapy’ is being challenged by ‘reparative counsellors’, who claim the prohibition is an infringement on speech, religion, and privacy. Lawyers for the therapists will argue before federal judges that the state ban should be blocked before it takes effect in January. The new law would apply only to licensed therapists and not religious counsellors.
‘The law is clear that the government can prohibit heath care practices that are harmful or ineffective,’ Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California, Irvine law school, told the New York Times.
Meanwhile, recently passed Australian legislation will require non-public sector organisations to report on general equality outcomes. A new Workplace Gender Equality Agency will use this data to set goals for individual industries, reports the Australian Legal Business website.


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