A Chinese psychological clinic has been ordered to pay compensation to a gay man who sued it for administering electric shocks intended to make him heterosexual, in what is believed to be China’s first case involving so-called conversion therapy.
Lawyer Li Duilong said the Haidian District People’s Court in Beijing on Friday ordered the clinic to pay $560 to compensate Yang Teng for costs incurred in the therapy.
Li said the court also ruled that there was no need to administer shocks because homosexuality did not require treatment. A suit against search engine giant Baidu for advertising the Xinyu Piaoxiang clinic in the western city of Chongqing was dismissed.
Homosexuality is finding increasing acceptance in China but many openly gay men face pressure to undergo sexuality “treatment” or marry a partner of the opposite sex.
Yang told the Associated Press he was “very satisfied with the results, which I didn’t expect. The court sided with me, and it has supported that homosexuality is not a mental disease that requires treatment”.
Yang said the therapy included hypnosis and electric shocks that harmed him both physically and emotionally.
He said he voluntarily underwent the therapy in February following pressure from his parents to marry and have a child.
Homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder in the country in 2001 although no laws outlaw discrimination against sexual minorities, and same-sex partnerships are not recognised.
Conversion therapy has more than a century of history around the world, but has fallen out of favour with medical authorities.
Nonetheless the lucrative industry persists in countries from Singapore to Britain and the United States – where reports of electroshock use have added to the momentum for a ban.