A gay man in the central Chinese province of Henan has successfully sued a mental hospital over forced conversion therapy, reports say.
The district court in Zhumadian ordered the hospital to publish a public apology in local newspapers and pay the man 5,000 yuan, or US$735 in compensation, according to a copy of the June 26 judgment obtained by The Associated Press.
The 38-year-old man, surnamed Yu, was forcibly sent to the hospital by his wife and relatives in October 2015 after he tried to get a divorce. He was diagnosed with “sexual preference disorder” and forced to take medicine and receive injections over 19 days.
In the ruling, the court said the hospital had infringed on Yu’s right to “individual freedom,” but did not weigh in on the practice of gay conversion therapy or account for Yu’s sexual orientation.
China removed homosexuality from its list of recognized mental illnesses more than 15 years ago, but some say attitudes towards homosexuality remain conservative in the country.
In 2014, a Beijing man named Peng Yanhui checked himself into a private conversion clinic to investigate its advertised electroshock treatments. He then sued the clinic and won a US$500 compensation from a Beijing court for the suffering he endured in treatment.
"It's time for China to enact laws to prohibit forced gay conversion therapy," Peng told AP after the Zhumadian ruling, which he said confirmed that forced treatments were illegal.
Yu’s lawyer, Huang Rui, told the South China Morning Post that they were pleased with the ruling, adding that the verdict would act as a deterrent to other hospitals carrying out such treatment.
“Winning this lawsuit can give all gay people confidence that they can safeguard their rights through the courts,” Huang said.