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Chinese Man Wins Lawsuit Over Forced Conversion Therapy

judge and gavel

Subjecting him to such therapy involuntarily infringed on his "right to individual freedom," a court finds. 

A gay man in China has won a lawsuit against the hospital that subjected him to forced conversion therapy.

"A court in Zhumadian in Henan province ordered a city mental hospital to publish a public apology in local newspapers and pay the 38-year-old man 5,000 yuan ($735) in compensation," the Associated Press reports, citing a copy of the judgment, which was issued June 26. It appears to be the first such suit won in China.

The man, identified only by his surname of Yu, was committed to the hospital in 2015 by his wife and other family members. His diagnosis was "sexual preference disorder," and he spent 19 days in the hospital, receiving medications that would supposedly rid him of his same-sex desires.

The court found that by forcibly subjecting Yu to treatment when he was not endangering himself or others, the hospital was "infringing on the plaintiff's right to individual freedom," the judgment reads, according to AP. The court did not address the legality of conversion therapy specifically.

Although Yu's suit is the first successful one involving forced conversion therapy, a gay activist who voluntarily submitted to such therapy in 2014 did win a suit against the clinic "for the suffering he endured in treatment," the AP reports. The treatment included electrical shocks.

That activist, Peng Yanhui, told the AP the ruling in Yu's case shows "it's time for China to enact laws to prohibit forced gay conversion therapy."

China decriminalized homosexuality a decade and a half ago, but same-sex relationships are still frowned upon in the nation.

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