Manvendra Singh Gohil, India’s first openly gay prince and son of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gujarat, bravely shared his battles with conversion therapy. After coming out as gay in 2006, Gohil faced a heart-wrenching response from his parents, who initially rejected his sexuality and sought brain surgery in a misguided attempt to “cure” him.
In an interview with Skynews, Gohil expressed the profound impact of his parents’ reaction, describing feelings of deep isolation and loneliness during that chaotic period, and even contemplating suicide. Although their eventual acceptance of his identity provided some peace, the scars of that painful time left a lasting mark on his life.
“It was an absolute case of discrimination and violation of human rights,” the Royal expressed to Sky News, reflecting on his parents’ attempt to “convert” him. “Whether I’m a prince or not a prince, parents have no right to put their children through [this] kind of torture.”
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Parents’ Failed Attempt
Mr. Gohil shared an account of his past, revealing that his parents had once thought of changing his sexual orientation through extreme measures. They considered the possibility of brain surgery and electroshock therapy in the United States, despite the fact that conversion therapy had been discredited there. However, the American Psychiatric Association’s recognition that homosexuality is not a mental disorder prevented these attempts from succeeding.
Nevertheless, the Prince had to endure profound embarrassment and humiliation as a result of his parents’ misguided efforts to alter his sexual orientation. The emotional pain and suffering inflicted by his parents’ actions were significant. Mr. Gohil acknowledged that he was one of many individuals in India who faced similar situations, emphasizing the widespread issue of harassment and suffering experienced by the LGBTQ+ community in his country.
Legal Implications of Conversion Therapy in India
Conversion therapy, also known as “reparative therapy,” is a controversial practice aiming to change an individual’s sexual orientation. In India, doctors who engage in such therapies can face civil liability for medical negligence, where compensation in monetary terms may be awarded for damages caused. However, relying solely on civil liability may not be enough to eradicate this harmful practice entirely, necessitating the consideration of criminal liability.
While still not being banned in India, our constitution does address “conversion therapy” to some extent. Firstly, Section 319 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) considers causing infirmity as an offense of “Hurt,” and this may encompass mental infirmities like depression, anxiety, and trauma resulting from conversion therapy. Secondly, Section 304-A of the IPC deals with criminal liability for medical negligence, but due to the limitations for establishing “gross” negligence, medical practitioners escape easily.
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil: A Beacon of Hope
In the face of his parents’ misguided attempts, the First Indian Gay Prince remained undeterred, channeling his experiences into a powerful advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights.
Despite facing immense adversity, the prince’s remarkable achievements have gone beyond the domain of royalty. Through his status and influence; he founded Lakysha Trust, an LGBTQ+ charity in Gujrat dedicated to supporting and empowering the LGBTQ+ community.
Today, the Prince stands as a symbol of hope for the LGBTQ+ community, leading a charge against harmful conversion therapy practices in India.
Mr. Gohil has taken his cause to the Supreme Court, initiating a legal battle in an attempt to secure a complete prohibition of conversion therapy through legislation.
Making International appearance in shows like The Oprah Winfrey Show, he has become a voice of change, inspiring millions of LGBTQIA+ individuals across India and beyond to embrace his true selves without fear of discrimination or persecution.
As the Indian society moves forward on the path of acceptance and inclusivity, the First Indian Gay Prince stands tall as a symbol of hope, highlighting a future characterized by compassion and understanding. His story and persistent advocacy for banning conversion therapy in India offer valuable assistance to LGBTQIA+ community. Individuals like him help foster a more enlightened and welcoming society where individuals can be whoever they want to be.