A gay Indian prince has opened up his 15-acre palace grounds to vulnerable LGBT people and is said to be constructing more buildings to house visitors.
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, who is the son and probable heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gujarat in western India, will run the centre with his organisation The Lakshya Trust.
The royal, who was ostracised by his family after coming out publically in 2006, started the community based organisation to support gay men and educate people about the prevention of HIV/Aids.
Homosexuality remains a big taboo in Indian society and sex between people of the same gender is punishable by law in the country.
The controversial Section 377 of the country’s penal code bans sexual activity that is “against the order of nature” and many have interpreted the wording to include gay sex.
Speaking to the International Business Times, the prince said he was keen to empower people with the social security system they need to ensure they are not left with nothing if their families disown them after coming out.
“If I could undergo these problems then any other gay person could face a similar situation,” 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 will 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.”
The prince’s coming out was breaking news all over India at the time and resulted in effigies of him being burned in his home state and people calling for him to be denied his title.
On top of this, he was disowned and disinherited by his parents.