Chinese man forced to undergo gay conversion therapy in mental hospital wins lawsuit

Man known as Yu forced into Henan institution in 2015 after his wife and relatives had him diagnosed with 'sexual preference disorder'

Gerry Shih
Tuesday 04 July 2017 08:49
Comments
China removed homosexuality from its list of recognised mental illnesses more than 15 years ago
China removed homosexuality from its list of recognised mental illnesses more than 15 years ago

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 (£570) in compensation, according to a copy of the 26 June judgment.

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 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 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 £390 decision from a Beijing court for the suffering he endured in treatment.

The recent ruling in Zhumadian “confirmed the illegality of forced treatments”, Mr Peng said. “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.

Associated Press

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in