Gay man sues China’s largest search engine for promoting conversion therapy

Xiao Zhen was aroused and then electroshocked in a treatment recommended by Baidu

Gay man sues China’s largest search engine for promoting conversion therapy
14 March 2014

A 30-year-old Chinese man filed a case on Thursday (March 13) against US-listed Baidu for promoting gay conversion therapy offered by a psychological consultancy in its search engine.

A court in Beijing will decide in the next few days whether to proceed with the lawsuit against Baidu and Chongqing-based Xin Yu Piao Xiang (XYPX).

Baidu, the fifth most frequently website in the world, has broken various laws for displaying advertisements by XYPX with false claims about changing sexual orientation, according to volunteer lawyer Huang Yizhi.

Last August, the gay man, who goes by the name of ‘Xiao Zhen’, googled the terms ‘homosexuality’ and ‘gay therapy’ on Baidu and the first result he got each time was an advertisement by XYPX.

With XYPX promising to cure him of homosexuality with a 30,000 yuan ($4880, €3525) treatment course, Xiao Zhen travelled all the way from the capital to Chongqing last month.

‘The psychological counsellor asked me to lie down for hypnotization, leading me to imagine being with another guy,’ he said. ‘I was electroshocked each time I was aroused.

‘I was freaked out and jumped up at once, but he insisted that it was all right and that one needed persistence to succeed.’

He told Gay Star News he only paid 500 yuan for his first and only treatment.

‘To complete the whole course would mean 20, 30 times of such therapy,’ he said. ‘I found it quite scary to have to go through this each time.’

Now Xiao Zhen becomes tense easily and is even more afraid of being hurt or discriminated against due to his sexuality.

After Baidu – whose market share in China is about 60% – repeatedly ignored his complaints online, Xiao Zhen decided to go to court with the search engine as the first defendant because of its huge impact on the general public.

Ah Qiang, director PFLAG China, has likewise slammed the internet heavyweight for lacking social responsibility.

‘Baidu has not only illegally promoted false advertisements, but it also gives priority to such sham claims about gay conversion in its recommendation to users.

‘It has effectively spread the message that homosexuality is a disease that has to be treated,’ he said.

Indeed, Ah Qiang had already reported to the government last year that XYPX operated without a license, made false promotional claims and engaged in medical practice illegally.

It was later revealed by local broadcaster CBG that XYPX ran ‘special training camps’ in the hills, where gays were accompanied around the clock by instructors and psychological teachers.

But this Chongqing consultancy is hardly the only business of its kind in China. In December, two LGBTI activists sent complaints to relevant authorities in as many as 10 cities about shocking  gay conversion therapy.

‘[These] organizations make use of people’s misunderstanding, discrimination and prejudice to carry out business frauds,’ said Ah Qiang, who calls on the government to regulate and penalize these businesses and protect LGBTIs’ basic rights.

Xiao Zhen’s civil complaint to the People’s Court for Haidian District, Beijing



No thumbnail available

Music legend Clive Davis comes out as bisexual

The man who discovered or signed superstars such as Whitney Houston, Barry Manilow and Alicia Keys has revealed his sexuality
No thumbnail available

Thomas Roberts on how he went from suicidal teen to first openly gay cable news anchor

'My message to any LGBTQ kid out there who feels like I did - hopeless, ashamed, or cornered - I assure you, you are a gathering storm'
No thumbnail available

Curious straight guy realises he's gay after watching How To Get Away With Murder

'When he touched me, I literally got chills down my spine. I loved it.'
No thumbnail available

Gay penguin family story makes 'most complained about' list

'And Tango Makes Three' is ruffling feathers in the US, as one of the most complained about books in schools and public libraries in the past year
No thumbnail available

Upstairs Downstairs gets lesbian twist

A lesbian storyline will feature in the new series of the BBC's Upstairs Downstairs
No thumbnail available

UK Prime Minister's gay marriage advisor quits

Andrew Cooper, who made gay marriage a top issue for the British government has resigned over a power dispute
No thumbnail available

Former homophobes film warning video to younger selves

Students from the University of Western Ontario in Canada launch the Get REAL campaign 
No thumbnail available

Canadians stop Lebanese pop star from singing anti-gay song

The Lebanese Canadian LGBT community have been assured that a visiting homophobic pop star will not perform a song which mocks LGBT Lebanese people’s struggle for acceptance
No thumbnail available
No thumbnail available

Singapore law minister: we won’t repeal anti-gay sex law

In a meeting with religious leaders, Singapore’s law minister, said the city-state’s anti-gay sex law will not be repealed nor will it be enforced