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Citizenship

India’s Only Openly Gay Prince Is Opening His Palace to LGBT People in Need

Members of India’s LGBT community seeking a safe space will soon receive a royal welcome.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil will open his vast palace grounds to vulnerable LGBT people and their allies, the International Business Times reported.

According to Salon, Prince Manvendra became India’s only openly gay prince when he came out in 2006, ignoring taboos and defying his family. Since publicly coming out, the prince founded the Lakshya Trust, a non-profit that supports the LGBT community in Gujarat, India.

Homosexuality is criminalized in India based on legislation that is a vestige of British rule. And though the country’sSupreme Court recently agreed to reconsider the law, according to the Hindustan Times, homosexuality remains deeply stigmatized. 

While India’s royalty have not held any political powers since the country gained independence in 1947, they are typically influential and respected members of their communities, the BBC reported.

When Prince Manvendra came out, his family disowned him and protesters burned his effigy in the streets, the Huffington Post reported. And those experiences led him to devote his life to raising awareness about LGBT issues and support LGBT people in India.

"If I could undergo these problems, then any other gay person could face a similar situation," he told the International Business Times. "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.”

By opening an LGBT center on his palace grounds, Prince Mavendra hopes to provide social, economic, and legal support, as well as health services, to Gujarat’s LGBT community, according to Gay Star News.

Read more: India Gay Pride Parade Shows Hope for Country Where Being Gay Is Still a Crime

"I want to give people social and financial empowerment, so eventually people who want to come out won't be affected,” Prince Manvendra told the International Business Times. “They will have their own social security system. It won't make a difference if they are disinherited."

The prince will run the center, called Hanumanteshwar 1927 after the year the palace was constructed, with the Lakshya Trust and has plans to expand the facilities to accommodate more guests in the future, the International Business Times reported.

Eventually, Prince Manvendra hopes his work will extend beyond India’s borders.

"My mission is to go global and go wherever I'm invited, mainstreaming the cause,” he said. "Gay rights are human rights. We won't win this fight if I corner myself to a national level. This has to be global."

While LGBT rights are still a controversial topic in India, people are celebrating the prince's move to recognize and support its LGBT community.

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