The petition led by 30-year-old Xiao Zhen and supported by 66,416 people was addressed to WHO Director Margaret Chan to reaffirm that being gay is not a disease.
“I’ve been through electro-shocks at a gay ‘cure’ clinic in China. Now I’m fighting back to tell everyone in China and beyond that being gay is OK — and to make sure that gay ‘cures’ are banned,” said Zhen in a report appearing inlifestyle.inquirer.net.
“I’m calling on WHO to back me up and send a simple message to Chinese authorities and the Chinese medical community: being gay is ok! It’s not a disease. No one should have to endure the trauma that I have, ever again,” said Zhen who uses a pseudonym.
Zhen sued Xinyu Piaoxiang clinic in Chongqing last July for administering a “gay conversion therapy” which included him being electrocuted, a procedure he was not informed about beforehand. He also sued Baidu, China’s equivalent of the Google search engine, for allegedly advertising the center.
Zhen said he was compelled to undertake the gay conversion therapy because his parents could not accept that he was a gay and because he felt “lonely, confused, and depressed.”
The ruling on the case will be released sometime later in September and is already being considered by Chinese LGBT groups as a landmark decision because of the deeply held Chinese belief that children are required to marry and bear offspring to continue the family line.
Elsewhere in the world, therapies that purport to turn gay, lesbian or bisexual people straight have been discredited.
The American Psychiatric Association says undergoing such treatment risks depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior. The United Kingdom Council for Pyschotherapy calls the practice unethical.
In China, however, conversion clinics have operated for decades, and there has been no such outcry from medical or official bodies even though China legalized adult same-sex relations in 1997 and removed “homosexuality” from an official list of psychiatric diseases in 2001.
Media reports that a panel constituted by the WHO has recommended that code F66.0 in the International Classification of Diseases — the top diagnostic manual of mental disorders book — remove “homosexuality-related psychological disorders,” pertaining to sexual orientation because they “lack scientific basis or clinical utility.”
The United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights has already in 2011 criticized “gay conversion therapies” as “unscientific, potentially harmful and contributing to stigma.”