A New Jersey judge last week ruled that therapists who describe homosexuality as a curable mental disorder are committing consumer fraud.

Four gay men claim in the lawsuit that “ex-gay” therapy violates New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed the first-of-its-kind lawsuit in 2012 on behalf of the men who say Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) fraudulently claimed to provide services that “convert” people from gay to straight.

The case is expected to go to trial over the summer, but Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso Jr. ruled that such claims are consumer fraud.

“It is a misrepresentation in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act, in advertising or selling conversion therapy services to describe homosexuality, not as being a normal variation of human sexuality, but as being a mental illness, disease (or) disorder,” Bariso wrote.

In a separate ruling, Bariso prohibited witnesses who planned to describe being gay as an illness from testifying.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) applauded the ruling.

“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,” SPLC Legal Director David Dinielli told the New Jersey Advance. “This is the principal lie the conversion therapy industry uses throughout the country to peddle its quackery to vulnerable clients.”

Chaim Levin, one of the plaintiffs, said in announcing the lawsuit that he and his family “have wasted thousands of dollars and many hours on this scam.”

The lawsuit accuses JONAH founder Arthur Goldberg, a former attorney who was disbarred, and counselor Alan Downing of violating New Jersey's law.

According to the lawsuit, Downing and other counselors encouraged clients to blame their parents for their sexuality, instructing clients to beat effigies of their mothers. Other sessions involved clients undressing in front of a mirror. In one instance, Downing is undressed as he instructs young men to stand naked in a circle.