Man wins law­suit in China over forced gay con­ver­sion ther­apy

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A gay man in cen­tral China has suc­cess­fully sued a men­tal 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 or­dered a city men­tal hos­pi­tal to pub­lish a pub­lic apol­ogy in lo­cal news­pa­pers and pay the 38-year-old man 5,000 yuan ($735) in com­pen­sa­tion, ac­cord­ing to a copy of the June 26 judg­ment seen by The As­so­ci­ated Press.

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 fi­nally walk­ing free af­ter 19 days. In its rel­a­tively nar­row rul­ing, the court did not weigh in on the prac­tice of gay con­ver­sion ther­apy or ac­count for Yu’s sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

The court said forc­ing Yu into a men­tal in­sti­tu­tion if he did not pose a dan­ger to him­self or oth­ers amounted to “in­fring­ing on the plain­tiff’s right to in­di­vid­ual free­dom.” China re­moved ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity from its list of rec­og­nized 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 men­tal 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 $500 de­ci­sion from a Bei­jing court for the suf­fer­ing he en­dured in treat­ment. The re­cent rul­ing in Zhu­ma­dian “con­firmed the il­le­gal­ity of forced treat­ments,” Peng told the AP. “It’s time for China to en­act laws to pro­hibit forced gay con­ver­sion ther­apy.”

The Zhu­ma­dian men­tal hos­pi­tal did not im­me­di­ately pro­vide com­ment when reached by phone. While few Chi­nese have re­li­gious ob­jec­tions to ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity and ho­mo­pho­bic vi­o­lence is very rare, the coun­try’s au­thor­i­tar­ian pol­i­tics and con­ser­va­tive so­ci­ety’s pref­er­ence for mar­riage and child­bear­ing cre­ate sub­tle bar­ri­ers that keep most gays in the closet. Vi­brant gay scenes do 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. —AP

BEI­JING: Gay rights cam­paign­ers act out elec­tric shock treat­ment to protest out­side a court when the first court case in China in­volv­ing so-called con­ver­sion ther­apy is held in Bei­jing, China. A gay man in cen­tral China has suc­cess­fully sued a men­tal hos­pi­tal over forced con­ver­sion ther­apy on June 26, 2017, in what ac­tivists are hail­ing as the first such vic­tory in the coun­try where the LGBT rights move­ment is grad­u­ally emerg­ing from the fringes. —AP

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