Treat or cheat: Chinese media exposes queer therapies on gay people

Updated: 2015-10-20 09:27


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While respect for sexual orientation is wining growing support worldwide, an investigation by Beijing News found that many gay people in China are still seen as being sick and subjected to all kinds of "treatments".

In a hutong near Beijing's Caishikou, reporters met a man surnamed Zhong who ran a clinic at a residential house. Taking homosexuality as a result of demonic possession, Zhong ran a dojo-like operation for his "patient", surnamed Chen, with incense burned and spells chanted. Chen was also given a talisman, which was said to be able to "protect him from the devils."

Before "doctor Zhong," Chen had resorted to an institution of traditional Chinese medicine. There, a doctor Wang claimed he has a sexual orientation disorder caused by clogged meridians. Chen was charged 530 yuan (about $83) for three tests – on blood pressure, meridians and psychological status. Wang said the whole treatment cost him some 10,000 yuan, citing dozens of cured cases.

Wang Linming, head of the acupuncture department at Beijing Chinese Medicine Hospital, said he had never heard of the involvement of TCM in treating homosexuality before, neither did he believe in its effect.

Chen was not the only one with differing sexual orientation forced to correct the "error". The Beijing LGBT Center once surveyed 1,600 people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group (LGBT), with one tenth of participants reporting experiences of treatment under family pressure. However, none of the treated has changed their orientation.

A man surnamed Lin, who went through electroshock treatment in Shenzhen during 2011, told the newspaper he paid 8,000 yuan for little more than physical and mental suffering.

Drawing on her expertise in psychology, Dr Liu Chaoying with Beijing Normal University said the LGBT group needs more respect from society. "Psychiatric help should be based on the needs of the LGBT group," Liu said, "and no one should abuse them or try to change their orientation."

In fact, China removed homosexuality from its national criteria of mental disorders in 2000. Last December, a Beijing court ruled in favor of a man who sued a homosexual clinic for misleading propaganda, the first such case in the country. The verdict stated that homosexuality is not a mental disease.