A new survey conducted by LGBTI advocates and NGOs in China has revealed at least 136 locations offering LGBTI conversion therapy in the country.
A ‘heat map’ published by Matters shows 134 confirmed locations in hospitals, clinics, and psychiatric centers across the country.
It includes a number of public health facilities.
China’s government removed homosexuality from a national list of mental illnesses in 2001.
But, the country remains a largely conservative society focussed on heteronormative families.
Families often pressure LGBTI relatives to undergo ’treatment’.
Conversion therapy is the harmful practice of attempting to change an LGBTI individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Mainstream health and psychological organizations denounce the practice for treating LGBTI identities as a mental illness.
In 2017, Human Rights Watch documented the horrors of conversion therapy in China. It included details of electrocutions and forced injections.
This month’s report was researched by a number of groups in China including LGBT Rights Advocacy Group China and PFLAG China.
‘I think there is a lot more underground’ said Yanzi Peng of the LGBT Rights Advocacy Group China.
More than 300
Ah Qiang, of PFLAG China estimated China has more than 300 centers in the country.
‘A lot of places in small cities will think they can cure LGBTI people’ he said. ‘I do not know the correct number, but I am sure it is more than ’.
He explained a number of reasons for the prevalence of conversion therapy centers in China.
’Some psychologists do not know it is not a disease’ he explained. ’They think they are helping, or want to help LGBTI people’.
‘Parents of LGBTI kids also ask doctors to help their children’.
What’s more, Ah Qiang said, in some cases, it was just a matter of money. ’Some doctors just want to make money, they do not care if it is a real disease or not’.