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Rights group calls on China to end conversion therapy

Treatments to change an individual's sexual orientation are discriminatory and abusive, Human Rights Watch says

Published: November 15, 2017 10:13 AM GMT

Updated: November 15, 2017 10:14 AM GMT

Rights group calls on China to end conversion therapy

A man holds a rainbow flag after taking part in the Pride Run in Shanghai on June 17, 2017. The run was part of Shanghai's ninth annual gay-pride festival. Human Rights Watch has called on China to stop hospitals and clinics conducting conversion therapy on gay people. (Photo by AFP)

A leading human rights group has called on China to stop public hospitals and private clinics from conducting conversion therapy.

These facilities' "treatments," which aspire to change an individual's sexual orientation from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual, are inherently discriminatory and abusive Human Rights Watch said in a report released Nov. 14.

"It’s been more than 20 years since China decriminalized homosexuality, but LGBT people are still subjected to forced confinement, medication, and even electric shocks to try to change their sexual orientation," said Graeme Reid, LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch.

"If Chinese authorities are serious about ending discrimination and abuse against LGBT people, it’s time to put an end to this practice in medical facilities."

The report, "'Have You Considered Your Parents' Happiness?': Conversion Therapy Against LGBT People in China," based on interviews with 17 people who endured conversion therapy, describes how parents threatened, coerced, and sometimes physically forced their adult and adolescent children to submit to conversion therapy.

In these facilities — including both public hospitals, which are government-run and monitored, and private clinics, which are licensed and supervised by the National Health and Family Planning Commission – medical professionals subjected them to "therapy" that in some cases entailed involuntary confinement, forcible medication, and electroshocks, which can constitute a form of torture.

Chinese authorities have not taken proactive measures to stop healthcare facilities or practitioners from offering conversion therapy.

Almost all of the people interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported being subject to verbal harassment and insulting language by doctors and psychiatrists, including terms such as "sick," "pervert," "disease," "abnormal," and "dirty."

"It’s time for China to join the global consensus: acknowledge that forced/medical conversion therapy is abusive and discriminatory and ban it," Reid said.

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