In India, a country where homosexuality is still widely stigmatized, an openly gay prince is taking some necessary steps for significant change in the LGBTQ community.
Earlier this week, Indian Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, 52, announced that he is opening his palace doors to lesbians, gays, transgenders and other Indians who have been largely shunned by society. Gohil has decided to open an LGBTQ center on the grounds of his ancestral palace, which was built in 1927 in Gujarat in western India, according to Reuters.
“I am not going to have children, so I thought, why not use this space for a good purpose?” Gohil said.
The prince added that he intends to renovate and extend his palace to be able to include solar panels for power, an area for organic farming, medical and educational facilities. He will add rooms that would house training in English and vocational skills to assist people in securing jobs.
Gohil, who is the heir apparent to the throne of Rajpipla in western Gujarat state, explained that traditional values in small-town India make it extremely difficult to come out.
“People still face a lot of pressure from their families when they come out, being forced to marry, or thrown out of their homes,” Gohil was quoted as saying.
Some gay couples, who have have been threatened with honor killings by their own relatives, were forced to migrate to other countries.
“They often have nowhere to go, no means to support themselves. I am not going to have children, so I thought, why not use this space for a good purpose?” Gohil said.
Royalty in India is still revered highly by the public, with many members of the royal family holding positions in the government.
Gohil’s initiative is expected to ruffle some feathers in the nation where same-sex relations remain illegal. In fact, the 52-year-old prince was heavily criticized when he came out as gay a decade ago, with his own mother publicly disowning him via a newspaper advertisement.
Gohil had earlier set up the Lakshya Trust, a charity for LGBTQ people, immediately becoming a champion for gay rights in the conservative state.
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