BEIJING – A Chinese psychological clinic was ordered Friday 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 ordered the clinic to pay 3,500 yuan ($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.
Calls to the court rang unanswered, and a person at the clinic hung up when the case was mentioned.
Reached by phone, Yang said 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.
Yang said the verdict will help gay rights advocates to urge clinics to stop offering such treatments and persuade parents not to pressure their gay children to undergo therapy.
“Someone needs to step up because we must stop such severe transgressions,” he said.
The suit alleged that the clinic had claimed the electric shock treatment was not dangerous. It asked for compensation of more than 14,000 yuan ($2,300) to cover the cost of the therapy, travel and lost earnings, as well as damages for psychological and physical harm. The court did not award damages.
Homosexuality is finding increasing acceptance in China, although many gay men still face strong family pressure to wed and carry on the family line.
China declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 2001, although no laws outlaw discrimination against sexual minorities and same-sex partnerships are not recognized.