At 12, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil knew that he was gay. However, he could only live his truth 30 years later. He publicly came out as gay at 41 while giving an interview to a local newspaper.
Until 2018, homosexuality was illegal in India and it was a punishable offence under Section 377. Section 377 was a colonial-era draconian law which gave life imprisonment for anyone committing sexual acts “against the order of nature”.
As soon as he came out, the entire town of Rajpipla reacted negatively. People began burning his effigies and shouted slogans that he bought shame on the royal family. Moreover, death threats were issued and demands were made that he should be stripped of his titles.
Even his parents did not support his homosexuality. They had publicly disowned him as their son. Four years before he came out to the world, he had come out to his parents. At first, his parents could not believe him and denied his homosexuality. They had insisted on finding a “cure” for his sexuality. For four years, his parents took him to a variety of medicinal practitioners and spiritual guides. He was subjected to electroshock treatments and when that did not work, he was taken to religious leaders to make him “behave normally.” While none of it worked, by the time his parents gave up, the young prince was left traumatized and depressed. He often contemplated committing suicide.
Although the horrible effects of conversion therapy are widely known, it is still not banned, except in Tamil Nadu. Moreover, there is no proven success rate, it continues to be widely employed to physically and mentally torture the country’s queer community.
The Prince is now at the forefront to demand a ban on unethical practices. While campaigning for a ban, he is also combating a decades-old mentality of homophobia, ignorance, and judgement.
Featured image source: Mashable