Numerous Chinese citizens are being forced into so-called conversion therapy programs to change their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a report released by human rights groups.
The report, drafted by Beijing Gender, indicated at least 96 centers and hospitals across China currently offer the therapy, according to Reuters. In 17 of 25 cities where such centers were found, activists say the nation's Health Department has refused to take any action to curb the practice.
"It's not just a commercial scam, but an action that violates people's rights," said Wang Zhenyu, leader of the Public Interest Law Center on Equal Rights for LGBTI.
China in 2001 technically removed homosexuality from its official Classification of Mental Disorders. But there have still been a number of state-sponsored efforts to stigmatize homosexuality. The government last year backed down from censorship of LGBTQ content on the Weibo website. But the same year, the government was attempting to ban gay media.
The new report shows continued efforts to deem LGBTQ identities as something wrong that must be fixed. One witness in the report said that in 2016 he was forcibly locked up at a Zhumadian hospital center, where he was required to go through conversion therapy for 19 days.
Another witness, a trans woman, said her family in July committed her to a hospital against her will so she could go through therapy in Jingdezhen.
In some centers, practices such as electrical shock therapy continue to employed. Activist Peng Yanzi said he endured such discredited procedures in 2014 before taking a hospital to court.