A Chinese gay "cure" survivor, Xiao Zhen, has secured a meeting with the World Health Organization to talk about banning these dangerous practices after 100,000 people signed his petition.
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Xiao Zhen*, 30, survived a gay "cure" clinic in China. The "treatment" involved electro-shock therapy and hypnotism. His family encouraged him to enter the clinic, however, after a few weeks he realized that the clinic was doing little other than traumatize him. These so-called "clinics" are common in China, where being gay is still taboo. However, for the first time in the country's history, Xiao Zhen (image) is standing up against these dangerous treatments and suing the clinic.
He asked the World Health Organization (WHO) for help. And he got it.
In partnership with global LGBT rights advocacy group, All Out, Xiao Zhen started a petition asking the WHO to condemn gay "cures" as a dangerous practice. Xiao Zhen managed to get over 100,000 signatures on the petition and now the WHO has agreed to meet with him to discuss how to move forward. He's released a short video asking more people to join his cause:
"I’m asking the global medical authority, the World Health Organization, to back me up," says Xiao Zhen in the video. "Thousands of us have signed a petition asking them to help stop these dangerous anti-gay ‘cures’ everywhere."
Xiao Zhen is the first person to sue an anti-gay clinic in China. "In China, most people who undergo 'conversion therapy' do so because they are pressured by their family. Parents, once they realize their child is gay, urge him or her to go to a psychiatric hospital or undergo treatment," Xiao Tie, executive director of the Beijing LGBT Centre told Al Jazeera. The ruling of this landmark legal battle is expected in September and could mean that gay "cures," or so-called "conversion therapy," could be banned nationwide. This could be a huge step for banning these "cures" in the whole region.
China stopped viewing homosexuality as a mental disease in 2001. Despite this official recognition, thousands of clinics in the country continue to offer sham gay "cures." But the fact that this case even exists is a sign that perhaps change is in the air. "Before, Chinese courts would have never taken on such a case," Xiao Chuan, a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Advocacy China rights group, told the AFP news agency. Xiao Zhen's meeting with the WHO is expected to take place sometime next week.
*Not his real name.
Editor's note: Oscar Lopez works for All Out.
Image: YouTube screenshot