Michael Riordon

the view from where I live

Gay ‘conversion’ on trial in China

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Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of our own choosing.   George Orwell, 1949, in 1984.

Gay 'conversion therapy', China protestProtest: “Homosexuals don’t need treatment,” Haidian court, Beijing, July 31, 2014.              Photo: Li Hao/Global Times.

A young man in China, Xiao Zhen, has taken a courageous public stand against the forced ‘conversion’ of gay people in his country.  (Xiao Zhen is a pseudonym, to protect himself and his family from harassment.)

“I was electro-shocked at a gay ‘cure’ center. Doctors hypnotized me and said they would ‘shock the gay’ out of me.

In families like mine, being gay is still seen as something that can be cured, and scam clinics prey on that fear. Now, I want my friends, my family and everyone in China to understand that being gay is normal.”

Though I’ve never met Xiao Zhen, I think of him as a younger brother. In 1968 I underwent the same electro-shock ‘treatment’ in Canada, for the same reason. Then it was called ‘aversion therapy,’ now it’s rebranded more positively as ‘conversion therapy.’ Either way, it’s torture. This should not happen to anyone, anywhere.

Remarkably, not only has Xiao Zhen taken the clinic to court, in a landmark case for China, now he has also taken an even bolder step: a petition to the World Health Organization.

“If we can get the World Health Organization (WHO) to join in and speak out against gay ‘cures’, it could help convince officials to finally ban these dangerous gay ‘cures.’

Will you sign my petition asking WHO Director Dr. Margaret Chan to speak up now and condemn gay ‘cures’ in China?”

More than 87,000 people have already signed the petition.  Please add your voice here, and pass this message on to others.

Psychiatry and psychology are among the many tools marshalled by the powerful to repress nonconformity and dissent.  More on this, and the resistance, in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, available September 4 from Between the Lines.

Author: Michael Riordon

Canadian writer and documentary-maker Michael Riordon writes/ directs/produces books and articles, audio, video and film documentaries, plays for radio and stage. A primary goal of his work is to recover voices and stories of people who have been silenced or marginalized, written out of the official version: First Nations (aboriginal) youth, Mozambican farmers, inmates in Canadian prisons, traditional healers in Fiji, queer folk across Canada, Guatemalan labour activists. Michael also leads courses, workshops and seminars for community organizations, trade unions, schools, colleges and universities.

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