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Gay men and their mothers have filed a lawsuit against JONAH, a gay conversion therapy program, accusing it of fraud.
Four gay men and two of their mothers filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against a gay conversion therapy program called Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH), accusing it of consumer fraud.
The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey Hudson County, alleged that the methods used by JONAH did not work and constituted fraud under the state's consumer protection laws, according to ABC News.
The plaintiffs include Michael Ferguson, Benjamin Unger, Sheldon Bruck and Chaim Levin, all of whom used JONAH's services when they were in their teens or early 20s.
The plaintiffs said they were defrauded by JONAH's claim that being gay was a "mental disorder" which could be reversed by conversion therapy, "a position rejected by the American Psychiatric Association four decades ago," according to the lawsuit, reported CNN.
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The suit said the therapy, which can cost up to $10,000 a year, placed them at risk of "depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior," without giving them any benefits.
"The conversion therapy techniques included having them strip naked in group sessions, cuddling and intimate holding of others of the same-sex, violently beating an effigy of their mothers with a tennis racket, visiting bath houses 'in order to be nude with father figures,' and being 'subjected to ridicule as 'faggots' and 'homos' in mock locker room scenarios,' the suit said," according to CNN.
Sam Wolfe, an attorney with Souther Poverty Law Center, which filed the suit, said he hoped the lawsuit would "get across in a powerful way that reparative therapy damages and sometimes destroys people's lives," according to The Daily Beast.
The Daily Beast noted that because it is the first suit to put conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, on trial, gay Orthodox advocates say a favorable ruling could push rabbis and their congregations toward accepting lesbians and gay men.
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