Tue, Sep 20, 2016 - Page 5 News List

LGBT advocates battle conversion

CHINESE CONDITIONS:Opponents of therapies meant to treat homosexuals say that the authorities are more interested in policing advocates rather than the clinics

AFP, CHONGQING, China

Telling his wife he was a homosexual was never going to be easy, but Yu Hu never thought it would see him committed to a mental hospital and fed a cocktail of drugs to “cure” him.

Yu’s wife readily agreed to a divorce, but his own family were more committed to change. They arranged for medical personnel to have him hospitalized.

For 19 days, he was given medications, with staff allegedly threatening to beat him if he refused to take them, all in the name of “curing” him of his sexual preference.

The 32-year-old was only released when his boyfriend and LGBT advocates contacted police in Henan Province.

Now Yu is suing his alleged captors, the latest in a series of legal battles aimed at banning supposed “gay conversion therapies.”

“They must be brought to justice, being gay is not a crime, but what they did to me is,” Yu said. “This isn’t only happening to me, and this must stop.”

Yu said that he still has nightmares about the episode in October last year.

His demands are simple: an apology from the hospital and an acknowledgement that homosexuality is not a disease to be cured.

Homosexuality has been legalized in China and was taken off the list of psychiatric disorders in 2001.

Chinese government censors in March banned gay characters on television, with new guidelines decreeing: “No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviors, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on.”

Many Chinese are their parents’ only children as a result of the country’s often brutally enforced family-planning policies, so parental expectations of marriage and grandchildren tend to exacerbate pressure on homosexuals.

Some enter into “cooperation marriages” with a knowing partner to satisfy their family’s demands.

Authorities are more interested in policing advocates than clinics, said campaigner Sha Sheng, whose group has helped hundreds of homosexuals after they found themselves in debt and trapped in Chongqing facilities.

“Even though a court has said this is wrong, it’s hard to fight against gay conversion therapy when the police are constantly shutting down our activities,” Sha said.

Other activists are trying to convert the medical providers.

“We try to educate doctors, introduce them to homosexual people and show them it’s not an affliction to be gay,” Joelle Yao from the Beijing LGBT Center said.

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