A gay man from northern China is suing a psychiatric hospital he alleges attempted to “cure” him of homosexuality with drugs, confinement and beatings.
The 32-year-old, who uses the assumed name Yu Hu, claims he was held against his will at the Zhumadian No 2 People’s hospital in Henan province in October last year. There, he was forced to undergo what doctors called “sexuality correction therapy”.
“During his confinement, Yu received coerced treatment, including medication and needle injections, as well as physical and verbal abuse,” Chinese media reported on Tuesday after a local court agreed to hear the fruit seller’s case.
His 25-year-old partner, who asked to be named only as Yang, told the Guardian Yu had been forcibly admitted to the hospital on 8 October after family members, including his wife, discovered he was gay.
About two weeks later, Yang raised the alarm after Yu asked to be rescued. Yang said he eventually secured his partner’s release with the help of Ah Qiang, a prominent LGBT rights activist from Guangdong province.
Homosexuality was legalised in China in 1997 and the country is home to an increasingly vocal gay community. Shanghai’s annual gay pride celebrations, which begin on Friday and have the theme “I Am Me”, are now in their eighth year.
But activists say some hospitals and doctors continue to prescribe drugs and use electroshock therapy as a bogus form of “conversion therapy”.
Last year, Channel 4’s Unreported World broadcast undercover footage showing employees at one clinic in the city of Tianjin administering electric shocks to a gay rights activist.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, Yu declined to be interviewed.
Yang said the hospital’s actions had left Yu feeling traumatised and afraid. “He even has nightmares about being forced to take drugs and being beaten and tied up in the hospital.”
Yang said he hoped a legal victory would put Chinese hospitals offering “conversion therapy” out of business.
“I want to make it clear that homosexuality is not a disease. It cannot be cured. I want this to be a warning to those hospitals [that claim it can be].”
An official who answered the telephone at the offices of the hospital’s Communist party committee on Tuesday afternoon said they were not aware of the case and had yet to receive a summons from the court.
By Christy Yao