A court in China has ruled in favour of a gay man who sued a mental hospital for forcing him to undergo conversion therapy to try to “cure” him of his sexuality.
According to The Guardian, the 38-year-old man, Yu Hu, was admitted into the psychiatric hospital in 2015 against his will by his wife and family.
He was diagnosed with “sexual preference disorder” and dosed with medicines and injections for 19 days in a misguided attempt to make him heterosexual.
The court in the city of Zhumadian ordered the institution to pay Yu 5,000 yuan (R9,718 / $735) in compensation. The hospital was also made to publish a public apology in local newspapers.
Homosexuality was legalised in China in 1997 and was removed from the Ministry of Health’s list of mental illnesses in 2001. Despite this, there are still reports of incidents of forced conversion therapy.
In a similar case in 2014, a Beijing court ruled in favour of a gay man who was made to undergo electro-shock therapy at a clinic in the city of Chongqin. The court concluded that conversion therapy is “false” and reaffirmed that homosexuality is not a disease.
The practice of conversion therapy has been widely discredited as ineffectual and harmful by major medical and psychological groups.
LGBT people have no specific protections from discrimination in China and homosexuality remains a taboo. Same-sex relationships are also not legally recognised.
In 2015, homosexuality was barred from being shown on television by the China Television Drama Production Industry Association. Last week, the industry body regulating online content, the China Netcasting Services Association, also issued new guidelines banning homosexuality online as “abnormal behaviour”. Surprisingly, the Communist Youth League has condemned the censorship.