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India’s First Openly Gay Prince Received Shock Therapy, Was Forced To Marry a Woman. Read His Story

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil was seen on Ted talks, in a interview with Oprah Winfrey and was also featured on Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

Updated: April 24, 2022 10:44 AM IST

By Kritika Bansal | Edited by Kritika Bansal

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil on the Oprah Show.
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil on the Oprah Show.

You might be familiar with Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, who’s India’s first openly gay royal. His story will leave you heartbroken and inspired at the same time. After suffering a great deal of rejection and backlash from society, including his family, plus physical torture, he is now fighting for the rights of others like him.

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He was forced into a short-lived arranged marriage with a woman, endured years of torturous conversion therapy, and suffered in silence. The prince eventually married his husband in 2013.

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Prince Manvendra knew he was gay from the age of 12. But he came out at the age of 41 in an interview to a local newspaper in 2006, when homosexuality was still illegal in the country. When Prince Manvendra came out entire town of Gujarat’s Rajpipla turned on him and it even triggered a nationwide scandal.

Disowned by parents, society:

Speaking to Insider in an interview recently, the prince, who is the 39th direct descendant of India’s Gohil Rajput dynasty, said his parents responded in a similar way as the public. The Maharaja and Maharani of Rajpipla publicly disowned him as their son and took out advertisements in newspapers announcing that he was cut off as heir due to his involvement in activities “unsuitable to society”.

“The day I came out, my effigies were burnt. There were a lot of protests, people took to the streets and shouted slogans saying that I brought shame and humiliation to the royal family and to the culture of India. There were death-threats and demands that I be stripped off of my title,” Prince Manvendra told Insider.

Subjected to years of conversion therapy:

Four years before coming out publicly, he came out to his parents in 2022 that he has been attracted to men for years. “They thought it was impossible that I could be gay because my cultural upbringing had been so rich. They had no idea that there’s no connection between someone’s sexuality and their upbringing,” Prince Manvendra said in the interview.

His parents insisted on finding a ‘cure’ for his sexuality and took him to several medical practitioners and spiritual guides. “They approached doctors to operate on my brain to make me straight and subjected me to electroshock treatments.” When it didn’t work out the way they imagined, Prince Manvendra was shipped to religious leaders who were ordered to make him “behave normally.”

By the time his parents gave up, Prince Manvendra was left traumatized and depressed, and often contemplated killing himself.

Now he is fighting for ban of conversion therapy:

Conversion therapy is still not illegal in India. Even though there is no proven success rate, it continues to be widely employed to physically and mentally assault the country’s queer population, leading to increased depression and death by suicide among LGBTQ+ youth in India.

Prince Manvendra is now at the forefront of the demand for a ban on the unethical practice. “It’s important for people like me who have a certain reputation in society to continue the advocacy. We can’t just stop because the country repealed Section 377,” the 55-year-old prince said.

“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,” he added.

He turned his palace into shelter for LGBTQ+ community:

Prince Manvendra founded Lakshya Trust, a charitable organization with the aim to improve the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Gujarat two decades ago.

In 2018, the year that the Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in a landmark ruling, the prince opened up a 15-acre palace grounds to build a shelter for vulnerable members of the community. It was the same palace he was thrown out of when he publicly came out years ago.

His advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights continues to primarily revolve around decimating the stigma around homosexuality. He has appeared in interviews with several big international media outlets, telling his story to the world. He was also seen on Ted talks, in a interview with Oprah Winfrey and featured on Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

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Published Date: April 24, 2022 10:42 AM IST

Updated Date: April 24, 2022 10:44 AM IST