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A 38-year-old gay native in the Chinese city of Zhumadian (not pictured above) has successfully sued a public psychiatric hospital after his wife and relatives had him committed to the hospital’s program for treating “sexual preference disorder.”
After being forced to take medications and endure injections for 19 days, the man left the program and subsequently sued the hospital. A local court ruled in favor of the man and ordered the hospital to publish an apology for their actions in local newspapers and pay the man 5,000 yuan ($736.61) for his suffering.
While that may not sound like a huge victory, local activists have praised the court victory as an important win. The Chinese Psychiatric Association stopped classifying homosexuality as a mental illness 15 years ago, but some Chinese hospitals continue to offer conversion and reparative therapy as a way to “cure” same-sex attraction, some even inflicting nausea-inducing drugs and electroshock therapy while charging up to $600 per session.
In 2014, a Beijing gay rights activist successfully sued a private reparative therapy clinic. It’s unclear whether either of the courts required the sued facilities to stop offering reparative therapy.
The win is especially important considering the Chinese government’s continued attack on LGBTQ rights. Most recently, the government banned all LGBTQ web content barely a month after they shut down an LGBTQ conference with 400 expected attendees. They have recently shut down two gay mobile apps and have a long history of harassing and imprisoning LGBTQ activists.
China’s crackdown on LGBTQ rights does not stem from religious convictions like in the U.S. and other European, South American and African countries. Rather, it stems partially from the idea that homosexuality disrupts traditional Asian family structures. LGBTQ activists are seen as government dissidents for opposing state orthodoxy.
A 2016 study found that Chinese LGBTQ students face much more violence, sexual harassment and neglect than their straight counterparts.