Manvendra Singh Gohil, India’s first gay Royal prince of the state of Rajpipla in Gujarat, is fighting to ban conversion therapy and create a safer space for the LGBTQ+ community in the country. Homosexuality was made illegal in India up until 2018, under the colonial-era law section 377. Those who were found guilty could be sentenced to a lifetime in prison for sexual acts said to be “against the order of nature.”
After homosexuality was decriminalized, Gohil opened up a 15-acre palace grounds as a shelter for vulnerable members of the community.
Gohil himself was a victim of t years of conversion therapy-including electric shock therapy-after coming out to his parents in 2002, four years before he would come out publicly. After coming out to his public in 2006, Gohil was met with death threats and calls to strip him of his title. Gohil admits that he expected the public scandal, as he knew he was gay when he was twelve but claims that he “doesn’t blame the people who are against me. I blame their ignorance on the subject.”
This is where his stance stems from, as he is fighting to end the stigma around homosexuality, as many in Rajpipla still believe that homosexuality is a kind of mental disorder. Gohil cites his own experience in this type of prejudice from his parents.
“They thought it was impossible that I could be gat because my cultural upbringing was so rich. They had no idea that there’s no connection between someone’s sexuality and their upbringing.” He told Insider. As of right now, Tamil Nadu is the only state to legally ban the practice in 2021.
Now 55, Gohil doesn't plan to stop with the repeal section 377. From his experience, he understands that the law being passed in India wouldn’t simply erase the decades of prejudice and ignorance in India. He also calls for LGBTQ+ people in India to advocate for themselves, as the fight has to continue.
“Now we have to fight for issues like same-sex marriage, right to inheritance, right to adoption. It’s a never-ending cycle. I have to keep fighting.”