Countries around the world make encouraging and incremental progress toward equality every day. Many countries are banning inhumane practices such as conversion therapy, and some are making restitution to former victims of overturned anti-LGBTQ+ laws. While this is emboldening the fight for equal rights and justice, some nations still have important changes to make, but they are fighting hard to make them.
For openly gay Crown Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of Gujarat, India, his country has come very far but still has very far to go.
An LGBTQ+ safe haven
Prince Gohil knew very early in his life that he was gay. He only came out publicly, though, in 2006 when he was 41 years old, and there was a public uproar.
“The day I came out, my effigies were burnt. There were a lot of protests, people took to the streets and shouted slogans saying that I brought shame and humiliation to the royal family and to the culture of India. There were death threats and demands that I be stripped off of my title,” Gohil said to Insider. Even his parents, the Maharaja and Maharani of Rajpipla, disowned him for being who he is.
Homosexuality was only made legal in India in 2018. Before that, homosexual acts could carry a life sentence, and some conservative Indians still believe it is a mental disorder, but this doesn’t dissuade Gohil from his mission of kindness and understanding.
“I don’t blame the people who are against me. I blame their ignorance on the subject.”
Prince Gohil continues his advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights. He primarily works to dismantle the stigma around LGBTQ+ individuals in India. This is why 20 years ago he founded Lakshya Trust, a charitable organization with the mission of improving the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Gujarat, but that’s not all.
When homosexuality was officially made legal in India, Prince Gohil opened up his 15-acre palace grounds to the LGBTQ+ community as a shelter for vulnerable individuals. It was, ironically, the very same palace grounds he was once banned from when he came out many years ago.
Continuing the fight
While being gay is now legal, many anti-LGBTQ+ behaviors persist in India. Conversion therapy, the ineffective practice of trying to change an individual’s sexuality, is still legal in India. Prince Gohil himself was subjected to this traumatic practice after he came out. Gay marriage is still illegal in India too, but this did not stop Prince Gohil from falling in love and marrying his current husband. He continues to use his reputation and celebrity to fight for LGBTQ+ rights.
“Now we have to fight for issues like same-sex marriage, right to inheritance, right to adoption. It’s a never-ending cycle. I have to keep fighting.”