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Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Controversy Arises Over Chinese Clinics Using Electroshock, Porn in Reparative Therapy for Gays

Controversy Arises Over Chinese Clinics Using Electroshock, Porn in Reparative Therapy for Gays

Chinese LGBT groups are speaking out against controversial gay reparative therapy methods, which include electroshock therapy and pornography, used in the world's most populous country, arguing that such practices are deeply damaging to individuals.

The LGBT Center in the capital, Beijing, has criticized methods which include connecting a wire to a person's genitals while a doctor administers electric shocks as the person watches a pornographic film, in hopes that it would eliminate undesired sexual attraction. Gay rights groups have argued that such methods "deeply damage homosexuals' physical and mental health, and worse, infringe on their self-respect," according to AFP.

The news agency added that in the past month it has contacted five different clinics in China that claim to offer "sexuality adjustment" therapy through means including hypnosis, drugs and electric shocks, and reported on a number of cases where people have said they suffered trauma after giving them a try.

"I have a lot of friends who received the treatment; it has made some of them nervous wrecks," said 21-year-old salesmen Liu Wei from the province of Guangdong.

Still, some clinics say that the methods work and offer hope to LGBT people who face great pressure from family and friends to get married and have children. One such place, The Haiming Psychological Consulting Center in Beijing, says that its electro-therapy works, writing on its website: "After each shock, the person will quickly interrupt their thought, and separate from their fantasies."

In China, where only three to four percent of the population identifies as Christian, same-sex marriage is forbidden under law. Homosexuality was officially removed from the list of mental disorders in 2001.

Various other gay conversation therapy methods are offered around the world, with the issue having gained significant media coverage in the U.S. in recent years.

In 2012, Exodus International, formerly the world's largest ministry for people struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction, made headlines when it distanced itself from reparative therapy before closing its doors last year. Its then president, Alan Chambers, told The Christian Post that although he was not against counseling, what he specifically opposed were some of the methods reparative therapists employed including heterosexual pornography. Chambers also spoke against therapists promising a "cure" or a "permanent" reduction of same-sex attraction, saying it set people up for unrealistic expectations.

Also making headlines was California's ban on sexual orientation change therapy for minors. In August 2013, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban, saying that it deems this type of therapy harmful.

"Many leading medical and mental health associations believe that homosexuality and homosexual desires are not a mental disorder, and therefore there is no need for a 'cure.' All medical evidence has shown that you cannot change a person's sexual orientation," argued a spokesman for Calif. State Senator Ted Lieu, who introduced the bill.

Groups such as The Liberty Counsel which appealed the ruling said, however, that there are minors who do not want to act on same-sex attractions, and for which therapy is helpful.

"They are greatly benefiting from this counseling. Their grades have gone up, their self-esteem has improved, and their relationships at home are much improved," Liberty Counsel stated.

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