The doors of a palace in India have been opened for vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community.
It is still illegal to be gay in India. The country still faces some of the worst stigma and discrimination towards the community. Despite all this, one member of Indian royalty is openly gay, and is using his position to attempt to welcome change.
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is the son of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gurjarat, and came out as gay back in 2006. The decision to come out wasn’t an easy one, as he has since been ostracised by his family whilst news of his coming out resulted in effigies of him being burned in his home state.
However, Prince Manvendra has been determined to fight for equality. He founded The Lakshya Trust, a community-based organisation which supports gay men and educates people on how to prevent HIV/Aids.
It was recently revealed that Manvendra has decided to turn his 15-acre palace into a place for the LGBTQ+ community. Speaking to the International Business Times about the decision to help vulnerable LGBTQ+ people in this way, 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.
I want to give people social and financial empowerment, so eventually people who want to come out won’t be affected. They will have their own social security system. It won’t make a difference if they are disinherited.
Not only is he opening the doors to his palace, but Prince Mavendra has plans underway to create additional properties to accommodate and help empower the community.