chinese_man_sues_gay_conversion_therapy_clinicA Chinese man is suing a gay conversion therapy clinic and a Chinese search engine for advertising the facility’s services.

According to AFP, the gay man – known only as Xiao Zhen – claims that the Xinyu Piaoxiang clinic in the city of Chongqing left him traumatised with its use of electro-shock therapy while trying to ‘cure’ him of his homosexuality.

The shocks were reportedly administered when he was asked by the clinic staff to have sexual thoughts about other men, in a bid to associate his gay sexuality with a negative experience.

He is also taking on China’s leading search engine, Baidu, for advertising the clinic’s ‘reparative’ or ‘conversion’ therapy.

The case is being seen as ground-breaking and the first in China to deal with the widely discredited practise of trying to ‘treat’ gays and lesbians.

“In China, most people who undergo ‘conversion therapy’ do so because they are pressured by their family. Parents, once they realise their child is gay, urge him or her to go to a psychiatric hospital or undergo treatment,” Xiao Tie, executive director of the Beijing LGBT Centre, told AFP.

The fact that a Chinese court has agreed to hear the case is being seen as a sign of increasing openness towards homosexuality.

Around a dozen campaigners protested against the clinic and gay ‘cures’ outside the Beijing court on Thursday.

Homosexuality was legalised in China in 1997 and it was removed from the Ministry of Health’s list of mental illnesses in 2001. LGBT people, however, have no specific protections from discrimination, same sex relationships have no legal standing and homosexuality remains a taboo.

Major medical and mental health organisations around the world – including The South African Society of Psychiatrists – have denounced efforts to change sexual orientation or gender expression as ineffective and potentially harmful.

Instead, they believe that therapy should be used to help people accept their sexuality.

Despite this, conversion therapies continue be administered around the world, including in South Africa.

Two states in the US, California and New Jersey, have now banned the practice among anyone under the age of 18.


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