Human Rights Watch Report: Chinese Government Hospitals Are Using Electroshock Ex-Gay Torture

The Washington Post reports:

Taiwan could soon become the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, while Hong Kong this month won its bid to host the Gay Games in 2022, another Asian first. But in mainland China, LGBT people are still being subjected to forced confinement, medication and even electric shock therapy to “convert” them into heterosexuals.

The “treatment” takes place in public, government-run hospitals and in private clinics, according to a report by Human Rights Watch released Wednesday.

The organization interviewed 17 people who were threatened, coerced and sometimes physically forced by their parents to submit to conversion therapy, as adults or as adolescents. Five were subjected to electric shocks while being shown images or videos — or given verbal descriptions — of homosexual acts. One described it as like “having needles stabbing my skin.”

From the Human Rights Watch report:

Human Rights Watch found that, in most cases, conversion therapy took place in public hospitals, which are government-run and monitored. In a few cases, conversion therapy was conducted in privately owned psychiatric or psychological clinics, licensed and supervised by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Governments are obligated to safeguard the fundamental human rights of individuals within their territory or jurisdiction. The abuses that occur in conversion therapy — including involuntary confinement; verbal harassment and intimidation; lack of informed consent in writing or orally; forced use of medicine; and forced psychiatric intervention — violate domestic and international standards, and the human rights of LGBT people.

These include the right to non-discrimination, the right to freedom from arbitrary deprivation of liberty, the right to privacy, the right to health, the right to freedom from non-consensual medical treatment, and, in the case of some minors, the rights of the child. Use of electroshocks have arguably amounted to acts of torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment.

More from ABC News:

China also has no laws protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, which deters victims of conversion therapy from seeking justice out of fear that their sexual orientation will be made public.

Under guidelines issued by the National Health Committee, the Government is required to investigate activities by hospitals that could violate the Mental Health Law, which prohibits forced confinement of people unless they pose a danger to others. But the Government has yet to issue clear guidelines prohibiting conversion therapy and holding abusers accountable.

The practice of conversion therapy persists because “many doctors are ignorant about homosexuality, and just follow the mainstream opinion, which is that being gay is abnormal, a sickness that must be treated,” said Wang Long, an LGBT activist from Zhejiang province.