The court has agreed to proceed with the lawsuit against Chongqing-based Xin Yu Piao Xiang for offering to turn gay men straight through hypnosis and also against US-listed Baidu website for promoting it in its search results, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Advocacy China, an organization that operates without government supervision told aljazeera.com.
The suit was filed by a 30-year-old Chinese man on March 13 for its claims about changing his sexual orientation.
“Before, Chinese courts would have never taken on such a case,” marking the first time a court in China has taken up such a suit. Xiao Chuan, a member of the LGBT rights group told aljazeera.com,
“It’s a sign of tolerance” on the part of the Chinese government toward LGBT Chinese, said Xiao who uses a pseudonym to avoid government retribution for the organization’s extralegal status.
The man filing the lawsuit said the Xin Yu Piao Xiang promised to cure him of his sexual orientation with a 30,000 yuan (US$4880) treatment course that not only did not work but for which he suffered significant psychological damage.
Same-sex relations were decriminalized in China in 1997 and in the early 2000s it was removed from the list of mental illnesses.
However the deeply held Chinese belief that children are required to marry and bear offspring to continue the family line means it is still heavily stigmatized.
That is why clinics throughout the country advertise “conversion therapies” to make members of China’s gay community straight, says Xiao Chuan.
Elsewhere in the world, therapies that purport to turn gay, lesbian or bisexual people into heterosexuals have been discredited.
The American Psychiatric Association says undergoing such treatment risks depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior. The United Kingdom Council for Pyschotherapy calls the practice unethical.