Gay day-school alumni blast conversion therapy group

Group is being sued for "fraudulent claims their conversion therapy program will change sexual orientation."

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July 23, 2013 01:53
2 minute read.
lgbt 521

lgbt 521. (photo credit: JQY/Robert J. Saferstein)

 
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The Gay and Lesbian Yeshiva Day School Alumni Association (GLYDSA) blasted Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a Jewish organization offering sexual orientation conversion therapy, on Monday.

GLYDSA’s critique of JONAH – which has been endorsed by various Orthodox organizations and rabbis – comes after Friday’s decision by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. to allow a lawsuit brought against the organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center to go forward.

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The SPLC is suing JONAH over what it is calling “fraudulent claims that their conversion therapy program will change sexual orientation from gay to straight.”

According to the SPLC, “conversion therapy services have been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations. The lawsuit describes how the plaintiffs – four young men and two of their parents – were lured into JONAH’s services through deceptive business practices.”

A GLYDSA representative told The Jerusalem Post that “by clinging to discredited therapies and fraudulent claims, JONAH has caused untold damage, both mental and financial, to numerous victims taken in by their deceptive quasi-religious ‘conversion therapy’ propaganda. In doing so, GLYDSA believes JONAH has brought this case upon itself and will have a chance to defend the indefensible in a court of law.”

GLYDSA believes that “it’s possible to be gay and frum [religiously observant]” and the organization holds monthly meetings in New York for homosexual Jews who identify as Orthodox.

In a statement posted when the lawsuit was first filed in December 2012, the organization stated that it “offers assistance to men and women seeking to resolve their sexual conflicts, including unwanted same-sex attractions.”



It accused SPLC of going against scientific and medical studies that say sexual attraction can be influenced by environmental or biological factors.

“Even certain gay activist groups claim that sexual attractions can be fluid and change throughout people’s lives,” JONAH said.

The organization defended its record.

“For over 12 years, JONAH has helped hundreds of people live the lives that they want, consistent with their personal values. JONAH’s mission is to give all people the opportunity to explore their internal conflicts around sexuality and other values in a caring, non-judgmental environment.”

Sam Wolfe, a senior SPLC staff attorney, said the defendants tried to make this “about religious beliefs.”

“But our case is about the defendants’ fraudulent claims that their conversion therapy program will change sexual orientation from gay to straight,” he said.

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