Judge Peter Bariso Jr. of the Hudson County Superior Court ruled this week that likening homosexuality to a “mental illness, disease, disorder, or equivalent thereof” and suggesting it’s curable is fraud.
The ruling came after the Southern Poverty Law Center sued the hate group Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) for violating the state’s Consumer Fraud Act when it advertised services that could change a person’s sexuality.
According to Slate, the services JONAH offered required patients to pay $100 to strip down in front of “therapist”Alan Downing then fondle their penises and butts while he watched. Doing this, Downing told patients, would help them turn straight.
But Judge Bariso wasn’t having any of it. This week, he ruled that “the general consensus in the mental health field that homosexuality is not a mental disorder, but is instead a normal variation of human sexuality.” He also called out JONAH on its bogus “success statistics,” telling the group “there is no factual basis for calculating such statistics.”
David Dinielli, Southern Poverty Law Center’s deputy legal director, called the ruling “monumental and devastating to the conversion therapy industry.”
“For the first time, a court has ruled that it is fraudulent as a matter of law for conversion therapists to tell clients that they have a mental disorder that can be cured,” he said. “This is the principal lie the conversion therapy industry uses throughout the country to peddle its quackery to vulnerable clients.”
“Gay people don’t need to be cured,” Dinielli added, “and we are thrilled that the court has recognized this.”