Gay men sue counselors who promised to make them straight
A lawsuit contends conversion therapists made false promises to turn gay teens straight.
November 27th, 2012
10:24 AM ET

Gay men sue counselors who promised to make them straight

By Alan Duke, CNN

(CNN) - Before Sheldon Bruck told his orthodox Jewish parents he was gay, the teenager looked for a way out of homosexuality.

His search led him to JONAH - Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing - which claimed on its website to help people "struggling with unwanted same-sex sexual attractions."

JONAH co-director Arthur Goldberg promised Bruck, then 17, that "JONAH could help him change his orientation from gay to straight," according to a consumer fraud lawsuit filed Tuesday against JONAH, Goldberg and a JONAH counselor.

"This is the first time that plaintiffs have sought to hold conversion therapists liable in a court of law," said Samuel Wolfe, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The defendants did not respond to CNN calls and e-mails for comment on the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Hudson County, New Jersey, Superior Court. A page on the organization's website touts success stories from the program with letters from past participants and their family members.

Bruck and three male plaintiffs contend they were defrauded by JONAH's claim that "being gay is a mental disorder" that could be reversed by conversion therapy - "a position rejected by the American Psychiatric Association four decades ago," the lawsuit said.

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Filed under: History • How we live • Sexual orientation
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