Gay conversion therapy although illegal and unethical is a practice in china that is still happening and believed to change a person’s sexuality.
Homosexuality is legal in China. It was decriminalised in 1997 and no longer seen as a mental health disorder. Though legal, many gay men have married heterosexual women due to pressures from families and society’s attitudes towards homosexuality.
China has many different ways to “covert” gay people. According to a publication by Guangdong Higher Education Press (“Consulting Psychology”) the recommended solutions below can help covert an individual’s sexuality.
- Sexual orientation transfer: to channel feeling towards the opposite sex when aroused through the use of pictures and audio.
- Repulsion therapy: to Induce nausea and or fear of electrocution during thoughts of being with someone of the same sex.
- Platonic love relationship: to find an “elegant and caring” partner of the opposite sex with hopes it develops into something more.
- Shock therapy: to make drastic change to one life such as moving to a new country.
Other ways to cure homosexuality in china includes medication and painful electric shock treatments (electric shock therapy). A short documentary published by Unreported World (2017) showed an undercover story of the different ways some psychiatrist claim to cure homosexuality alongside some of the challenges faced by homosexual men in China.
Although such believes of curing homosexuality is still present in china to date, it cannot be dismissed that migrants from china currently residing in the UK may still hold such beliefs.
In the UK, gay conversion therapy is not a new practice. Although banned as part of the LGBT plan to improve the lives of gay and transgender people. It is possible that embedded believes could encourage this practice in secret- which could lead to further issues such as financial exploitation, abuse etc.
According to BBC (2018) while the government did not propose a definition of “conversion therapy”, its report stated that it “can range from pseudo-psychological treatments to, in extreme cases, surgical interventions and ‘corrective’ rape”.
Most gay people declare that they are born gay and being gay is who they are and cannot change it. Others argue that being gay is a choice as people learn through their environment as they grow. There may never be any evidence to substantiate either side of this argument however, it is evident that some of the ways to “cure” homosexuality can be dangerous. The impact of these treatments can include, confusion, memory loss, physical and medical conditions, mental health issues etc.
Jayne Ozzane (a member of Church of England General Synod) stated that “many young people are suffering from mental health issues, self-harm, suicidal tendencies as a result of this, because they feel so guilty when it doesn’t work.”
It is important to speak about the impact of such practices in our communities to help raise better awareness about it. It has been acknowledged that many people from Black and Minority Ethnic Communities do not agree with the practice of homosexuality due to various reasons (religion, values, cultural beliefs etc) however, it is imperative that gay conversion therapies are not encouraged as its impact can be detrimental and life threatening.
In the UK, there are many services available to support the LGBT community. If you are confused about your sexuality or would like some support regrading being pressured to engage with gay conversion therapy, please contact the LGBT Foundation for advice and support on: 03453303030.
Another service supporting the LGBT community in the UK is Gallop, this is an anti-violence organisation fighting against hate crime, domestic violence and sexual violence against LGBT persons.
References and Further Reading
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH552xLZNp0 (YouTube Video)