The trial went underway on July 31 for a man who is suing the Chinese search engine giant Baidu along with a mental health counseling center that he found through the website while seeking a “homosexual correction” service that he says left him “traumatized”.
The man, nicknamed Xiao Zheng, said he discovered the Chongqing SinYu PiaoXiang mental counseling center when he’d searched “therapies for homosexuals” on Baidu in August, according to Want China Times. The center, which uses electroshock therapy, boasted “outstanding sexual orientation correction skills with high success rates” on its website.
Xiao Zheng said he was left traumatized by the electrotherapy performed on him, and filed a lawsuit on the grounds that it had damaged his health and violated human rights.
The patient’s consultant, Jiang Kaicheng, claimed to be “highly reputed in the country”. It was discovered, however, that his “senior mental health consultant” certificate was issued by a fake website and had been revoked by the government in 2006.
Xiao Zheng’s lawyer argued that “homosexual correction” therapy is an illegal medical treatment which has never been proven effective. He said that the counseling center made false claims in its advertisement, and Baidu violated advertisement and consumer protection laws by distributing the claims.
Baidu has denied that it knowingly advertised services offered by the counseling center, and the search keywords and counseling center’s website no longer show up on Baidu’s search engine.
The Beijing LGBT Center said that this hearing is the country’s first to involve “conversion therapy”, according to the Associated Press. The group hopes that the court results will lead to a ban on such treatments. The court has not yet reached a verdict.