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A Gay Indian Prince Is Opening His Palace Gates To LGBTQ Community

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, India’s only openly gay prince, is opening his palace to vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community…

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is in the process of building a centre on the grounds of his 15-acre ancestral palace to welcome Indians shunned for their sexuality. The only openly gay prince in India – where same sex relations are still illegal – will personally oversee the project in his home state of Gujarat, India along with his organization The Lakshya Trust.

“I am not going to have children, so I thought, why not use this space for a good purpose?” Gohil said, adding that the centre will offer rooms for the homeless, a medical facility and training in English and vocational skills to help struggling LGBTQ people find jobs.

Gohil made international headlines in 2006 when he came out publicly as gay. At the time a conservative outrage was sparked and effigies of him were burned as people across India called on him to renounce his title. Under pressure from the rest of the royal family, Singh’s parents publicly disowned and disinherited him three months after news of his sexuality broke. But after he traveled the world to tell his story, his parents reversed their decision and have somewhat reluctantly accepted him back into the family.

The likely heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gujarat in western India later founded The Lakshya Trust to combat HIV/AIDS and help support India’s LGBTQ population.

Many young people are thrown out of their homes after coming out, a problem the Prince seeks to address with his new endeavour.

“If I could undergo these problems then any other gay person could face a similar situation,” he told the International Business Times.

“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,” said Gohil.

“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.”

Gohil’s high profile has helped the LGBT community in India enormously, said Harish Iyer, a gay rights activist who hosts a radio show dedicated to LGBTQ issues.

“For him to be one of us, the stakes are even higher, so providing this space is a great gesture,” he said.

* CLICK HERE TO READ ‘First Openly Gay Indian Prince Talks About Coming Out’ from the March/April 2016 issue of IN.

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