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HRW to China: Stop Forced Conversion Therapy for LGBT People

  • VOA News

Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights program at Human Rights Watch, poses with a report in Hong Kong, China, Nov. 15, 2017.

A global human rights advocacy group says the Chinese government should prevent medical facilities from forcing people to undergo conversion therapy designed to change a person's sexuality from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report Wednesday based on interviews with 17 LGBT people who were subjected to widely-criticized conversion procedures that sometimes involved involuntary confinement, electroshock and forced medication.

Homosexuality was eliminated from China's official list of mental illnesses in 1997, but instances of families enrolling relatives in programs to change their sexual orientation continue to be reported.

The report was released as the awareness of LGBT people continues to grow in China. Included in the report's findings are accounts of patients undergoing "aversion therapy," which forces patients to take nausea-inducing medication while viewing gay pornography, resulting in an association of sexual stimulation with nausea.

Other findings cite patients who were verbally abused by doctors who called them "dirty," "pervert," and "sick."

There are no laws in China that protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, so victims of conversion therapy are reluctant to seek justice out of fear their sexual orientation will be publicly disclosed.

Guidelines issued by China's National Health Committee require hospitals and other medical facilities to be investigated if they are suspected of violating a law that prohibits the forced confinement of people unless they are a danger to others. The government, however, has not issued clear guidelines banning conversion therapy and holding abusers responsible.

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