Counterfeit cures

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-10-20 20:13:04

Quacks offer to turn gay people straight with conversion therapies

Chinese gay man Yang Teng holds a statue of the Goddess of Justice and a rainbow flag as he displays the court verdict in front of the Haidian District People's Court after winning his case against a clinic that offered shock therapy to cure his homosexuality in Beijing on December 19, 2014. Photo: IC

Gay people in China continue to be offered to new ways to cure their "illness" including religious rites, despite the fact that homosexuality has not been officially considered a mental illness in the country since 2001.

In a 20-square-meter house located in a traditional hutong in Caishikou, Beijing's Xicheng district, a man lit incense, prayed to Buddha and whispered some spells. He acted like an exorcist, pushing his hands toward Chen Wei (pseudonym) from a distance or giving him hard slaps on the back. The so-called master claimed that Chen was possessed by evil spirits and that dispelling the evil could rid him of his homosexuality.

In December 2014, a Beijing court heard China's first case against a clinic offering so-called gay conversion therapy, pronouncing in its verdict that "homosexuality is not a mental illness and does not need to be cured." It was hailed as a landmark verdict by LGBT rights activists.

However, similar treatments are still available in China. Apart from this kind of religious rite, many hospitals have also been discovered providing gay conversion treatment including a therapy which involved injecting collagen into various parts of the body.

TCM remedy

Chen has been confused about his sexual identity for a long time. He was always mocked by his peers, who said he acted like a girl. Looking for answers, he came to the Beijing Junyi Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital on October 14 which claimed it can cure his homosexuality. He was met by a TCM psychiatrist surnamed Wang, who told him that homosexuality "should, and can be treated."

Wang concluded that his "abnormal" sexual orientation was due to a "meridian obstruction," and claimed that he had successfully cured a man that had faced Chen's predicament.

Wang suggested to him that collagen injections could change his orientation within three days. "The total expense is about 10,000 yuan ($1,572)," said Wang.

"TCM can cure homosexuality? I've never heard about it before," said Wang Linming, head of the department of acupuncture and moxibustion at the Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine. "High-level hospitals will never approve collagen injection," he added.

Incantation therapy

While Chen was trying to decide whether or not to have the collagen treatment, he found other people claiming to be able to "cure" homosexuality through a large information publishing website.

On October 16, he met a man surnamed Zhong in Caishikou and went to the latter's house. A statue of Buddha stood in the doorway while several TCM certificates were hung on the wall. In his house, there was only a bed and a table and no medical instruments.

"Homosexuality is regarded as an illness in China but is not seen this way outside the country," said Zhong, who claimed that the "illness" was caused by karma.

Zhong pinched Chen's hand and said he was possessed by evil spirits.

"Did you raise animals?" Zhong asked him. "I raised a parrot." "Where did it go?" "It died." "It was angry. Did you find it dead after several days?"

After these questions, Zhong said that Chen's parrot had cursed him. He asked Chen to read spells every time he thought about men in a sexual way.

"I have planted something in your body, if you don't do it, you will get a headache," Zhong warned.

Based on Zhong's advice, Chen bowed to the Buddha, shut his eyes and crossed his fingers. After a series of rites, Zhong wrote down a spell, placed it in a red envelope and gave it to Chen. The treatment cost Chen 100 yuan in total.

According to a recent study conducted by the Beijing LGBT Center and LGBT Rights Advocacy China, over 80 organizations still offer conversion therapy in China. Another survey showed that nearly a 10th of the 1,600 LGBT respondents had sought such therapies previously.

The Beijing News

Posted in: Society

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