How LGBT Chinese are forced into pointless ‘conversion therapy’

The helmet he was wearing was wired to a machine; when the machine was turned on, a weird feeling of numbness washed across his scalp. The doctor turned a dial and that feeling was replaced by pain, as if he was being pinched all over, or stabbed by needles.

After a few minutes, his body began trembling. It was not until afterward he realized he had been electrocuted.

Liu, a pseudonym, is one of more than a dozen Chinese LGBT people who spoke to Human Rights Watch (HRW) for a new report into so-called “conversion therapy” — procedures intended to alter their sexuality that are often abusive and based on shoddy science.

According to HRW, the pseudoscientific practice is widespread in China, carried out in public hospitals and government approved clinics even though homosexuality is neither a crime nor regarded as a mental illness in the country.

China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, which oversees hospitals, did not respond to a request for comment. Letters sent to the NHFPC and the Chinese Society of Psychiatry by HRW also did not receive a response.

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