India’s first openly gay prince, Manvendra Singh Gohil has opened up his 15- acre palace grounds to vulnerable LGBT people, the centre is to be run with his organization, The Lakshya Trust.
He is the son and probable heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gujarat in western India.
The royal, made headlines for coming out publicly in 2006 and was ostracized by his family; he went on to start a community based organization to support gay men and educate people about the prevention of HIV/Aids.
In a country where homosexuality is still a taboo subject and consensual sex between individuals of the same gender is still a punishable offense, this seems like a drop of rain in drought.
Speaking to the International Business Times, the prince said he was keen to empower people with the social security system they need to ensure they are not left with nothing if their families disown them after coming out.
“If I could undergo these problems then any other gay person could face a similar situation,” he said.
“In India, we have a family system and we are mentally conditioned to be with our parents. The moment you try to come out you are told you will be thrown out and society will boycott you. You become a social outcast. A lot of people are financially dependent on their parents.”
“I want to give people social and financial empowerment, so eventually people who want to come out won’t be affected. They will have their own social security system. It won’t make a difference if they are disinherited.”
The prince’s story took over the nation, click here to read about journey so far.
Prince Manvendra’s charity provides counselling, clinical services and support groups to thousands of men who have sex with men. Many of the men in question have yielded to cultural burdens to marry women despite their sexuality.
Judges in India ruled sexual orientation is covered under clauses in the Indian Constitution that link to liberty in spite of the government claiming there was no legal right to privacy. The ruling leads the way for discriminatory practices against LGBT people in the country to be challenged in the courts.