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.