When Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of Gujarat came out in 2006 it was a pivotal moment for India's LGBT community. Now, he's giving back to the LGBT people of India in the most incredible way possible...
Since his public coming out in 2006, in which he defied both his parents and his sovereign duty, Prince Manvendra has been a very vocal advocate for LGBT rights in India. Championing the gay community at every opportunity, the prince even started his own charity – the Lakshya trust – which addresses the legal, economic, health and social issues of LGBT people.
Now, the prince is taking his commitment to supporting and campaigning for gay rights in India one step further: by turning his palace grounds into a sanctuary for the LGBT community.
In partnership with his charity, he recently unveiled plans to build on his palace grounds (which btw are gorgeous). The plans include creating accommodation, medical assistance and counselling for members of the LGBT community who are escaping persecution, fleeing from abuse, or have been kicked out by their parents.
Being openly gay in India is still a huge taboo. Aside from the fact that sexual activity between two members of the same gender is illegal, many openly gay Indians face exclusion from their communities and even families for deviating from tradition. Prince Manvendra himself experienced this first hand when he filed for divorce, a royal taboo in itself, and had his parents publicly disown him.
The aim of the new palace sanctuary is for LGBT Indians to feel safe, but mostly to feel empowered.
In response to this shocking dedication to his cause, India’s Supreme Court may even reconsider its 2013 decision of making same sex relationships illegal. It was reported that the court agreed to re address the validity of section 377, an old law which deemed same sex relationships criminal. It’s safe to say that this decision by the prince is pretty darn huge.
Every LGBT person deserves to feel safe, and to know that they’re not alone. The prince’s decision to open his palace to the public will hopefully spark a new wave of recognition for India’s LGBT community and the few resources and safe spaces that they have. This act of kindness proves that there’s solidarity in community, and it’s better to resist persecution than to live a life that doesn’t feel like your own – whether you’re a normal person, or a royal prince.
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