India’s Only Openly Gay Prince Is Building an LGBTQ Center in His Ancestral Palace

Here’s some nice news: Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is opening
a center for ostracized LGBTQ people at Hanumanteshwar 1927,
one of his family’s ancestral palaces.

The IB Times
reports
that Hanumanteshwar 1927 has only four bedrooms,
but there are plans for expansion and other structures on the
land. Prince Manvendra has been a staunch advocate for gay
rights ever since coming out about his sexual identity and
facing fierce backlash in 2006. His parents publicly disowned
him, and people burned his figure in effigy in Rajpipla:

“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’ll be thrown out and society will
boycott you. You become a social outcast. A lot of people are
financially dependent on their parents.”

The prince would like to offer LGBTQ people “social and
financial empowerment” so they have some sort of security
system if they’re disinherited or cut off from their families.
Before Gohil came out, he had already established the Lakshya
Trust, which works works on sexual health and LGBTQ issues,

according to
NPR. They’ll be running the new center.

Despite Gohil’s own very recent story about the difficulties of
living openly as a gay man, things are changing in the country.
India has a number of colonial-era laws criminalizing same-sex
relationships, but in late 2017 their Supreme Court
ruled
sexual orientation is protected under the country’s
right to privacy law. This is the first step towards
decriminalizing same sex relationships.

“Lifting the law will encourage more people to come out and
live their lives freely. But it may also mean more people in
need of support,” Gohil
told
Reuters.

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