The world’s only openly gay royal, Indian prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, is throwing his weight behind the campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in his country.
Gohil, from the state of Gujarat in western India, came out to an Indian newspaper in 2006 and faced protests and a negative backlash, including being disowned by his own family.
But he’s become a human rights activist, educating people on issues faced by gay people in India and hoping to inspire a new generation of LGBTI people to accept themselves.
Gay sex is currently illegal in India but the Supreme Court of India recently ordered a review of the legislation and Gohil wants to seize on that momentum.
“It’s my duty, the duty of an activist like me, to educate these people about what is the facts,” he told the ABC.
“And it’s only then that they will start accepting us and understanding our issues.”
He said change was slow but he had seen definite progress towards equality in the years since he first came out.
“There have been some parents who have accepted their children,” he said.
“There has also been a lot of change in the way that the media has been reporting. Earlier, the media would get the stories mixed up and say it’s unnatural and illegal and immoral.
“Now the media has also started reporting positive stories, and that’s a very good thing.
“The more support we get from society outside of the community, that’s something which will help us win our rights.”
Manvendra attributed the negative reaction to his coming out to an ignorance towards LGBTI issues in India.
He said the law he wants repealed is an archaic piece of legislation that has been left over from India’s colonial era.
“This law was not an Indian law. One has to understand that homosexuality has been existing in our Indian society since bygone eras,” he said.
“We have the famous Kama Sutra — the sex encyclopaedia — which was written 500 years before Jesus Christ was born. And it has a full chapter dedicated to homosexuality and transgenderism.
“We have temples in India which are centuries old where homoerotic statues have been openly depicted.”
He said institutional anti-LGBTI attitudes were a relic of British colonial rule and the influence of other religions like Islam and Christianity.
“We have got independence 70 years ago, when we have got rid of the British. I don’t understand the reason why the laws made by them are continued,” he said.
“And especially in our country, where our religion is predominantly Hinduism, is openly tMolerant towards homosexuality.”
In 2016, Gohil opened up about his coming out experience in a video for a local LGBTI awareness campaign. Watch it below:
(Photo by Manvendra Singh Gohil/Facebook)