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Chinese man wins forced gay conversion therapy lawsuit

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A man holds a rainbow flag at Shanghai’s annual gay-pride festival. 

A gay man in central China has successfully sued a psychiatric hospital over forced conversion therapy, in what activists are hailing as the first such victory in a country where the LGBT rights movement is gradually emerging from the fringes.

A court in Zhumadian, in Henan province, has ordered a city psychiatric hospital to publish an apology in local newspapers and pay the 38-year old man 5,000 yuan (£570) in compensation.

The man, surnamed Yu, had been forcibly admitted to the institution in 2015 by his wife and relatives and diagnosed with “sexual preference disorder,” court documents show. He was forced to take medicine and receive injections before walking free after 19 days.

China removed homosexuality from its list of recognised mental illnesses more than 15 years ago but stories are rife of families admitting their relatives for conversion therapy.

Gay rights activists say the case marks the first victory against a public psychiatric institution for compulsory therapy against a patient’s will.

In 2014 a Beijing man named Peng Yanhui checked himself into a private conversion clinic to investigate its advertised electroshock treatments. Peng, a gay rights activist who goes by Yanzi, then sued the clinic and won a payout for the suffering he endured in treatment.

The recent ruling in Zhumadian “confirmed the illegality of forced treatments,” Peng said. “It’s time for China to enact laws to prohibit forced gay conversion therapy.”

The Zhumadian hospital did not immediately provide comment when reached by phone.

While few Chinese have religious objections to homosexuality, the country’s authoritarian politics and conservative society’s preference for marriage and childbearing create subtle barriers that keep most gay people in the closet.

Vibrant gay communities exist in large cities including Shanghai, which has an annual gay pride parade, and depictions of same-sex relationships are increasingly seen in Chinese films and television.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com

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