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An Indian Prince Comes Out

Jim Burroway

July 12th, 2006

It’s not unusual for a son or daughter to be disowned by his or her familiy after disclosing their sexual orientation. But it’s almost unprecedented among royalty — because royalty almost never “comes out.” There’s typically far too much at stake to allow such a bold step, but that may be changing.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, who is from one of India’s richest royal families that ruled the former Rajpipla principality in the western state of Gujarat, was disowned by his family after he publicly announced that he is gay. While princely kingdoms were abolished when India declared its independence, many royal families continue to enjoy tremendous wealth and influence.

Prince Manvendra responded, “I will not stake my claim to the property. I have found a family in the (gay) community and am happy working for the community. … As an activist, I thought it right to come out of the closet first. Otherwise, it would have been living a lie.”

Prince Manvendra runs Lakshya Trust, an organization working with Indian gays with HIV/AIDS. That work is complicated by the fact that homosexuality is banned in India, where it is punishable by up to ten years in prison.

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