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Gay Man Sues Hypnosis Clinic For Trying to Turn Him Straight

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Friday May 16, 2014
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A Chinese man is suing a gay conversion clinic
A Chinese man is suing a gay conversion clinic  (Source:Thinkstock)

For the first time ever, a Beijing court has agreed to hear the case of a gay man who is suing a Chinese clinic after doctors tried to turn him straight during hypnosis.

Gay Star News reports that the clinic Xinyu Piaoziang in Congqing tried to use "gay conversion" hypnosis treatment to a man at the clinic.

Now the plaintiff alleges that not only did it not work, but he is also suffering significant psychological damage. He is suing both the clinic and Baidu, a Google-like service that advertised the procedure.

Although the outcome is bad for the man, it bodes well for the climate in China, which only declassified homosexuality as a mental illness in 2001.

"It’s a sign of tolerance" that the courts have taken up the lawsuit, said a spokesperson for the group Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Advocacy China, as reported in Al Jazeera.

"Before, Chinese courts would have never taken on such a case," said Xiao Chuan, a member of the LGBT rights group who is using a pseudonym.

The decision comes after years of mental health and gay rights activists around the world advocating against conversion therapy. There is no indication whether the plaintiff is suing because he wanted to stay gay, or because he didn’t end up straight. Either way, the hypnosis most likely would have been ineffective.

"To date, there are no scientifically rigorous outcome studies to determine either the actual efficacy or harm of ’reparative’ treatments," the American Psychiatric Association said in a 2000 position statement emailed to Al Jazeera.

In March, The Economist reported that in China, the idea that homosexuality is a curable disease prevails in rural areas and among older generations.

Because young people are under pressure to provide an heir, Zhang Beichuan of Qingdao University, in east-central China, reckons that four-fifths of young gay men in China end up marrying women. They may be drawn to clinics that offer counseling to gay people and services often touted as a "cure," with the hefty price tag of $5,000 or more -- a fortune for most Chinese.

Elsewhere in the world, gay conversion therapies have largely been discredited. The American Psychiatric Association says undergoing such treatment risks depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, and the United Kingdom Council for Pyschotherapy calls the practice unethical.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women’s news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes about local restaurants in her food blog, http://brooklyniscookin.blogspot.com/

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