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China ‘gay conversion therapy’ attacked by rights group HRW

China 'gay conversion therapy' attacked by rights group HRW

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Homosexuality has been legal in China since 1997

Gay people in China are being subjected to verbal and mental abuse, forced medication and electric shock therapy, Human Rights Watch says.

A report by the organisation has gathered the testimony of 17 people who say they underwent forced therapies to "convert" them into heterosexuals between 2009 and 2017.

Human Rights Watch said such treatments were taking place in Chinese hospitals.

It urged the Chinese government to take action against such illegal practices.

Human Rights Watch said that 11 of those interviewed were forced to take medication without being informed about their purpose or risks.

"If you do not change [your sexuality], you will get sick and die of Aids," one patient was told by a doctor.

"Have you ever considered the happiness of your parents?" another patient was asked.

Five of those interviewed were subjected to electric shocks while being shown images or videos – or given verbal descriptions – of homosexual acts.

Gong Lei described his experience.

"The doctor asked me to relax because I was going to practice some kind of hypnosis and to think about sex scenes with my boyfriend, at that moment I felt pain in both wrists. I did not know what was happening, " he said.

The advocacy director of the gay rights programme at Human Rights Watch, Boris Dittrich, said that many of those subjected to such gay conversion treatments did not report what had happened to them.

"The fear of having their sexuality made public and family pressure make it difficult for them to file an official complaint," Mr Dittrich said.

Human Rights Watch said a 2013 mental health law effectively renders conversion therapy in China illegal, yet it still continues to take place.

In July, a gay man in central China won an apology and compensation from a mental hospital over forced conversion therapy.

Graeme Reid, director of Human Rights Watch's LGBT Rights Programme, called on China to ban the practice and "give LGBT people actionable protections against this grim practice".

China decriminalised homosexuality in 1997 and it was removed from an official list of mental disorders in 2001.

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