Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of Rajpipla, India’s first openly gay prince, opened the doors of his palace to LGBTQ people in need this week. Among other things, he plans to offer them shelter, medical facilities, vocational training.
A long-time gay rights activist, Gohil made headlines in 2006 after coming out to his family. His family promptly disowned him and people of Rajpipla burned effigies of him on the streets.
“People still face a lot of pressure from their families when they come out, being forced to marry, or thrown out of their homes,” Gohil told Reuters.
Before coming out, he created the Lakshya Trust, an organization dedicated to LGBTQ rights and sexual health. This organization will be fundraising and managing the center that will be built at Gohil’s palace.
Homosexuality has historically been taboo in modern India, with LGBTQ people facing persecution from both the public and the government. Section 377, a colonial-era law which criminalizes gay sex, was reinstated in 2013. Activists have since petitioned against the law, forcing the Supreme Court to order a review of the law this past week.
“I want to give people social and financial empowerment, so eventually people who want to come out won’t be affected [negatively],” he told the International Business Times.