People with homosexual feelings can seek electroshock therapy in China
People with homosexual feelings can seek electroshock therapy in China Reuters

Conversion therapy designed to banish homosexual feelings is controversial enough in Britain, but in China the treatment is harsher yet.

People who submit themselves to a course of therapy can be zapped with electricity as part of the treatment.

The extreme course of action takes place in a culture where it is often very difficult to be open about not being heterosexual.

So-called gay cure therapy has been in the spotlight in Britain, where the standard treatment is talking therapy with a psychiatric practitioner. But in China, the measures can be more drastic.

A Chinese man identified as Zhang told AFP he underwent electro-shock therapy and called the process "painful."

He was hooked up to the mains supply by doctors and shown a pornographic film. Whenever he became aroused, an electrical current was passed through his body.

"It wasn't a massive shock, but it was painful," he said.

In China, homosexuality does not have parity with heterosexuality and was classed by the Communist government as a mental disorder in 2001.

Zhang opted for the electro-shock therapy after deciding that living as a gay man would be "too tough" in China.

He said: "I thought I'd try and see if there was a chance I could become a normal person. I didn't want to cause my family trouble, or disappoint them."

Therapy to attempt to alter sexuality is on offer in Britain and is highly controversial. Critics say so-called conversion therapy pathologises sexuality and treats it as a problem to be cured.

Speaking to IBTimes UK, therapist Dr Mike Davidson defended the practice and claimed he had been the victim of something akin to a witch hunt, following an advertising campaign by his group which promoted conversion therapy.

A bill to outlaw conversion therapy has been tabled by MP Geraint Davies. The Labour MP fears vulnerable people seeking help over their feelings risk being exploited by religious groups, he told IBTimes UK.