The best way to describe Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is that it was the stench of medieval times still doing the rounds in “progressive” India. While a minority of the Indian populace had tried to raise their voice without much success, the majority of the public was still bitter towards the LGBTQ community. With homosexuality now decriminalised, it is still integral that influencers and change-makers of this country let their actions speak rather than words, helping the community truly become equal members of society.
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, heir apparent to the throne of Rajpipla in western Gujarat is an exceptional ambassador of the LGBTQ community. Coming out of the closet can be a terrifying and stressful experience for anyone, let alone for an Indian Prince with decades of royal lineage. Mr Gohil became the first openly gay Prince in the world in 2006 and is far from a passive passenger for he spends his time promoting equal rights for the queer community and works with charitable trusts like Lakshya and Free Gay India.
Much like Bruce Wayne in the Dark Knight Rises, the 52-year-old Prince has decided to open his palace gates, not for orphans but for the LGBTQ community and other Indians who live in fear and have been abused for their sexual orientation. “People still face a lot of pressure from their families when they come out, being forced to marry, or thrown out of their homes. They often have nowhere to go, no means to support themselves,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.
Mr Gohil plans to erect this centre on his 91-year-old, 15-acre ancestral property and apart from reserving some land for organic farming, the enlightened Prince also has the forethought to install solar panels for power. The centre will also be a barometer to test how liberal India really is because it will be financed by an online crowd-funding campaign and donations, which will be managed by Mr Gohil’s charity.
“I am not going to have children, so I thought, why not use this space for a good purpose?” Mr Gohil said about the centre which will not be a mere space for the socially shunned but will also provide them with medical facilities and help them cultivate English speaking and vocational skills.
Read more about it here.
Feature image courtesy of Manvendra Singh Gohil via Instagram.
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