MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A New Jersey state judge today ordered the dissolution of an organization known as the Jewish Institute for Global Awareness (JIFGA), which facilitates gay-to-straight “conversion therapy,” because its founders were barred from promoting the fraudulent practice in 2015.
Superior Court Judge Peter F. Bariso Jr. issued a 47-page written decision finding that the defendants have violated a 2015 injunction and settlement agreement involving the group then known as Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH).
In order to “deter and punish” the defendants, Judge Bariso also barred JONAH's founders from serving as directors of any New Jersey nonprofit corporation and ordered that they pay attorney fees incurred in connection with plaintiffs’ efforts to enforce the injunction. The court also ordered the defendants pay the full amount owed under the settlement agreement.
“The court previously had ordered JONAH to shut its doors and stop promoting conversion therapy because a jury found that its program was fraudulent and unconscionable – in violation of New Jersey’s consumer fraud law,” said David Dinielli, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center. “The ruling today – concluding that defendants have violated that court order – confirms that the court meant what it said. Conversion therapy necessarily is fraudulent because it is based on the lie that LGBTQ people can and should be fixed. Along with our clients and other allies, we will not stop until we eradicate these dangerous practices in New Jersey and around the country.”
This past Friday, lawyers from the SPLC, Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP, and Lite DePalma Greenberg LLC presented oral arguments on motions urging Bariso to enforce the permanent injunction and settlement agreement between JONAH (now known as JIFGA) and the plaintiffs.
In a landmark June 2015 victory, a jury found that JONAH falsely claimed that it could change its clients from gay to straight and was in violation of New Jersey’s consumer fraud law. The defendants have continued to flagrantly violate the court’s injunction more than three years later.
Luke Barefoot, partner at Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP, said: “When we learned that JONAH continued to operate under a new name and, in defiance of the jury’s verdict, carry on the same unconscionable practices that harmed so many vulnerable young people, we knew our job was not over.”
To read more about the original case: https://www.splcenter.org/seeking-justice/case-docket/michael-ferguson-et-al-v-jonah-et-al
To read more about the motion to enforce the permanent injunction: https://www.splcenter.org/news/2019/03/28/splc-conversion-therapy-provider-continues-secretly-operate-nearly-four-years-after-jury