In China, electric shock therapy and hypnosis are still methods used to treat homosexuality. Last week, gay activists sued a counseling center on Thursday for its “gay conversion therapy,” making it the first time the country has seen this kind of lawsuit.
A 30-year-old man spoke in court of the trauma he suffered in Chongqing, including electric shock therapy and hypnosis as a means to cure his homosexuality. He also sued Baidu.com, China’s largest search engine company, for false advertising. When searching “homosexual treatment,” the website ranked the center nearly at the top.
Five members from the non-profit LGBT Center protested outside the Beijing court where the case was heard. They wore white doctors’ and nurses’ uniforms and held signs saying “homosexuals do not need treatment” and “support the Haidian court in fighting conversion therapy.”
In 2011 the government stopped classifying homosexuality as an illness, but the stigma still stands.
The man who testified in court, referred to as “Xiao Zhen” to keep his identity hidden from family and friends who don’t know he’s gay, hopes he will win the case and change his parents’ outlook on homosexuality.
When Zhen’s parents found out he was gay a year ago they pressured him to going to conversion therapy at Chongqing Xinyupiaoxiang Counseling Center in February.
According to its website, the center successfully cured ten patients in 2011 and seven within six months of 2012. It costs $80 per session or $4,860 for the full-course treatment.
“In China, many people undergo conversion therapy because they experience pressure from their families,” Xin Ying, the 28-year-old director of the LGBT Centre, said. “They lie to their parents and their doctor, saying they were cured. But it’s not because they were cured – it’s because they didn’t want to experience the pain of being treated.”
The Chongqing center says they can provide the guide that homosexuals need.
“Any type of homosexuality is not really homosexuality,” the website says. “It’s just a wrong way of sexual release. They just need to be guided.”
The court has not yet reached a verdict.