Hospitals in China are reportedly offering gay people electric shock therapy as a means to “cure” them of homosexuality.
The SBS One programme Dateline conducted a recent undercover expose of these hospitals, which was broadcast on Tuesday night.
In a video clip from the Australian investigative journalism show, a hospital is called and asked if they offer “treatment” for homosexuality.
The voice on the other side replies, “Yes, our hospital has it,” explaining that “it will be just like an electric shock.”
Producers managed to video a session undercover in which a man undergoes the procedure at the Huashan Hospital.
He is connected to equipment via electrodes attached to his head and, after admitting, “I’m nervous,” he is seen arching his back and raising his arms as he’s shocked.
According to Dateline, a psychiatrist at Tianjin Mental Health Hospital told an undercover activist that, “When these urges arise, you can take a cold shower or go jogging to release the excess hormones.”
She also suggested taking nausea-inducing drugs and using electric shock therapy at home when faced with same-sex sexual urges.
“It’s a small electric rod. When you have these urges, you shock yourself with the rod. Then you know you should avoid these urges,” she said.
The activist was told that these procedures will “rebalance” his nervous system.
While homosexuality was legalised in China in 1997 and is not considered a medical condition, LGBT people have no specific protections from discrimination, and homosexuality largely remains a taboo.
Attempts to cure or change people’s sexual orientation, known as conversion therapy, have been widely discredited as ineffectual and harmful by major medical and psychological groups.
While the South African Society of Psychiatrists has rejected the practice, it remains legal and has been offered in South Africa, primarily by some religious groups.