A Chinese court has recently heard a landmark case on gay conversion therapy. Xiao Zhen (pseudonym), is currently suing a psychological clinic for around 10,000 RMB for subjecting him to electroshock therapy in order to “cure” his homosexuality.
The article reproduces the interview conducted by the Beijing Times with Xiao Zhen. In the interview, he recounts his family background, how he finally accepted his homosexuality only at 27 and found his true love in Beijing, and also how he searched for and went to a Chongqing psychological clinic for gay conversion therapy at the behest of his parents. Consultation rates are charged at the clinic at 500 RMB per hour and subsequent thrice-weekly sessions totalling around 30,000 RMB are required.
Having received one treatment during which he was electroshocked, Xiao Zhen stopped the treatment and returned to Beijing. His experience spurred his circle of friends to investigate the treatment and the clinic, gathering evidence which showed the ineffectiveness of the treatment and that the clinic’s practising certificate was fake. The findings convinced Xiao Zhen to file a lawsuit against the clinic to make his experience a representative case and to bring attention to the issue. He is also suing Baidu as he feels Baidu has a moral duty to filter search results and verify the practising certificates of clinics. This is the first documented court case in China in relation to homosexuality treatment, with the court expected to reach a decision in one months’ time.
In the interview, Xiao Zhen also expresses the opinion that homosexuality still faces fierce opposition from both family and society, and that views still remain conservative even among the younger generation. He hopes but is less optimistic that society will eventually accept homosexuality as intrinsic rather than as a product of environmental influences.
Hospitals and clinics contacted by the paper had differing opinions on whether homosexuality could be treated, with some still offering treatments for potential patients. The paper also conducted interviews with psychologists, who expressed that homosexuality should no longer be perceived as a mental disorder, having already been removed from its classification as one from the China Psychiatric Association guidelines.