Chinese Man Wins Lawsuit Over Forced Conversion Therapy

A volunteer taking a stand against conversion therapy in front of the Zhumadian hospital last year

On June 26, a court in the Henan province ordered the hospital to publish an apology in a local paper and pay the 38-year-old the equivalent of £569.

A court in China has awarded a gay man financial compensation and required a mental hospital to apologize for making him undergo conversion therapy, according to reports.

The case revealed his family had institutionalised him, later being diagnosed with "sexual preference disorder".

The verdict recounted Yu's statement that he was "treated by force" with medications and injections for 19 days.

The court found that by forcibly subjecting Yu to treatment when he was not endangering himself or others, the hospital was "infringing on the plaintiff's right to individual freedom", the judgment reads, according to AP.

The Zhumadian ruling did not explicitly reference the practice of gay conversion therapy, but the ruling is still seen as a victory for LGBT rights in a country where homosexuality remains shunned by mainstream society despite being decriminalized in 1997.

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Gay rights activist Peng Yanhui said it was "the first case that homosexual people [have won] after being forced to undergo treatment for mental illness".

The latest ruling takes the scope of the public apology even further, reinforcing "the illegality of forced treatments", as Peng told the AP. The court did not address the legality of conversion therapy specifically.

Religious objections to the LGBT+ community are not as strong in China, but the authoritarian conservative politics keep a lot of the community in the closet.

Hours later, a provincial branch of the Communist Youth League, an influential organization of the ruling political party, appeared to join the debate, declaring on China's Twitter-like Weibo microblog that "homosexuality is not a mental disorder", and urging its followers to "put down your prejudice and hostility, you can do it!"

This however has changed in recent years, with growing gay scenes in the larger cities as well as the introduction of a gay pride celebration in Shanghai last month.

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