The efforts of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to downplay his country’s terrible human rights record while on recent trips to the U.S. and Great Britain have taken a hammering. News has recently surfaced that gay people in China are being treated with drugs and electric shock therapy in efforts to “cure” them of their sexuality.
The news broke from the release of undercover activists’ videos of the treatment at two psychiatric hospital in Tianjin, near Beijing. The groups had filmed secretly.
In one video, a psychiatrist at Tianjin Mental Health Hospital says, “When these urges arise, you can take a cold shower or go jogging to release the excess hormones,” before going on to talk about the more sinister treatments, including drugs that make patients feel nauseous when they have “urges” and electric shock therapy.
She also talks of another self treatment method. “It’s a small electric rod. When you have these urges, you shock yourself with the rod. Then you know you should avoid these urges,”” she says.
Another video shows electrodes being attached to a gay patient’s head while he is told the treatment will “rebalance his nervous system”.
Human rights activists and psychotherapist Johnny Li says, “I think aversion therapy can hurt anyone, especially gay people. Aversion therapy reinforces their lack of self-identity and their feelings of rejection… the damage can be long-term or even last a lifetime.”
The treatments continue despite China “officially” stopping classifying homosexuality as a mental illness 15 years ago. LGBT activists often report they still face harassment from the police and other law enforcement agencies.
An often repeated joke in Chinese Gay activist circles is “If you’ve never been visited by a policeman, that means you are not achieving a very good job.”