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Indian prince disowned after coming out


Troy Espera | July 10, 2006

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil
NEW DELHI — An Indian prince was disowned by his family after publicly coming out of the closet, violating a nearly 150-year-old Indian ban on homosexuality. Reuters UK reports that Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, who belongs to one of the country's richest royal families that ruled the former Rajpipla principality in the western state of Gujarat, was disowned for "activities unacceptable to the society", one disinheritance notice placed by his parents in a newspaper said. Last month, his parents issued notices in a Gujarati language daily withdrawing his right to the family property.

"Henceforth, no one must refer to my name as mother of Manvendra," one notice signed by his mother said. "If any individual or organization dares to do so, it will invite contempt proceedings.�

But Gohil, 40, who announced he was gay this year, says he has found happiness among Gujarat's gay community and is not interested in his inheritance. "I could not have lived a lie forever," he told Reuters late last week. "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," said Gohil, who runs a nonprofit organization working on HIV/AIDS among homosexuals.

"As an activist, I thought it right to come out of the closet first. Otherwise, it would have been living a lie."

Homosexuality is banned in India and punishable by up to 10 years in jail, but gay activists are trying to lift the veil of secrecy over the community in a country where public hugging or kissing even among heterosexuals invites angry stares, lewd comments and even beatings.

Gay support groups say the anti-homosexuality law – framed by British colonial rulers in 1861 – must be scrapped for an effective fight against HIV/AIDS because many homosexuals refuse to come out in the open fearing harassment by authorities.

UNAIDS says there are an estimated 5.7 million Indians living with HIV, many of them homosexuals.

India abolished princely kingdoms after independence from Britain in 1947, but many royal families continue to lead lavish lives in sprawling palaces. – Issued by Gay Link Content


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