(WTVR) – Four gay men accused a New Jersey organization of fraud Tuesday for selling “conversion therapy” with false promises to make them straight.
The Associated Press reports the men said the therapy should not be marketed under New Jersey’s consumer protection laws.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said JONAH, a New Jersey conversion therapy practice, should be shutdown because their therapy not only harms the individuals who undergo treatment, but also drives stigma against gay men and women that potentially fuels hatred and violence.
JONAH’s founder, Arthur Goldberg, said on the group’s website that the most underrepresented minority in the world are people who have been co-opted into the gay lifestyle and really have no understanding that they have the ability to change if they want.
However, Michael Ferguson, one of the plaintiff’s who said he was referred to the group by his youth minister, called into question the group’s therapy practices.
“I watched as grown men were frenzied into fits of emotional rage against their mothers,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson also much of the therapy was about accessing a “so-called true manhood.
“In another exercise, a man had to break through a human barricade, that I was apart of, in order to seize two oranges that were meant to symbolize his testicles,” Ferguson said.
After that, Ferguson said the man was told to squeeze the juice from the oranges, drink the fluid and then stuff what was left of the fruit into his pants. This was in effort to represent the act of gaining his testicles.
“The symbolic absence of them, supposedly being a cause of his homosexuality,” Ferguson said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said this is the first-ever lawsuit of its kind.
JONAH did not respond to repeated interview requests from the Associated Press.