A group of Jewish so-called gay ‘conversion’ therapists have set up shop in Israel – after coming under fire in the US.
The ‘gay cure’ practitioners, who call themselves Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), had previously operated in the US state of New Jersey.
However, the group was shuttered last year after a court found that they broke the state’s consumer fraud protection law by claiming to be able to change the sexuality of clients.
The court demanded JONAH pay $72,400 (£46,000) in damages for “psychological damage” as a result of the practices – but the group appears to have simply moved out of the US to continue its work.
Jewish LGBT groups are warning that the group has now set up shop in Israel, which has far looser consumer protection laws in the US, and where the ‘cure’ practices are not specifically prohibited.
JONAH allegedly has 50 unlicensed therapists practising ‘conversion therapy’ in Israel, alongside 20 to 30 licenced psychologists, according to JTA.
Chaim Levin, a former JONAH client who took legal action against the group for the harm done, said the move was incredibly dangerous.
He said: “I’m extremely concerned. It’s exporting hatred and junk science.”
But US-trained psychologist Dr Elan Karten, author of a much-criticized study on ‘changing’ men’s sexual orientation, is among those to move to Israel.
Karten claimed: “Since there is such a strong religious presence here, and political correctness isn’t as prevalent, there’s more openness about it, about this kind of therapy here.”