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China must ban abusive gay 'conversion therapy,' rights group says

China must ban abusive gay 'conversion therapy,' rights group says
From CBC - November 15, 2017

The Chinese government muststop hospitals and other medical facilities from subjecting LGBT people to so-called "conversion therapy" that in some cases has involved electroshock, involuntary confinement and forced medication, a human rights group said Wednesday.

The report released by New York-based Human Rights Watch, based on interviews with 17 people subjected to the widely criticized techniques since 2009, comes as awareness has grown in China regarding the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Homosexuality was removed from China's official list of mental illnesses more than 15 years ago, but stories of families enrolling relatives in treatments seeking to change their sexual orientation remain common.

Yang Teng, a Chinese gay rights activist, said a staff member at a private clinic in the southwestern city of Chongqing administered an electric shock to his finger as he was told to think about a time he had had sex with a man.

"The experience had left a deep psychological impact on me," Yang, who was not involved in the Human Rights Watch report, said in an interview Tuesday. He said one session at a clinic in the southwestern city of Chongqing in 2014 cost him 500 Chinese yuan ($96 Cdn).

The rights group's report, called"Have you considered your parents' happiness?" says many victims of conversion therapy were forcibly brought to hospitals by their families, which became the subject of a groundbreaking lawsuit earlier this year. The hospitals locked patients in their rooms to prevent escapes.

According to the report's findings, patients were verbally harassed by doctors, called "sick," "pervert," and "dirty," and some had to undergo "aversion therapy," where patients were forced to take nausea-inducing medication while watching gay pornography, so that they would associate sexual arousal with nausea.

Chinese society continues to strongly favour children who can pass on their family name, and since same-sex marriage is not legal and same-sex couples may not adopt jointly, gay and lesbian people feel compelled to enter heterosexual marriages and have children.

China also has no laws protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, which deters victims of conversion therapy from seeking justice out of fear that their sexual orientation will be made public.

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