Sunday, 7 October 2007

Hundreds Celebrate Gay Prince's Birthday

Hundreds Celebrate Gay Prince's Birthdayby Newscenter Staff
Posted: October 7, 2007 - 4:00 pm ET

(Vadodara, India) Hundreds of people from high and low social stations gathered on the grounds of the royal palace in Gujarat state to celebrate the birthday of India's openly gay prince.
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil turned 42 on Sunday. A leading figure in India's small LGBT civil rights movement and a vocal supporter of people living with HIV, Prince Manvendra invited gays and PWAs from all over India to celebrate his birthday at a party that featured gay musicians and artists.

It is the 10th birthday that the prince has celebrated this way, brightening the faces of hundreds of people who regularly suffer from discrimination.

Homosexuality is illegal in India, punishable by imprisonment and people living with HIV/AIDS are frequently shunned by their families.

For the prince the occasion allows people to interact and be visible. The two day party was extensively covered by the Indian media which usually treats gays with derision.

Although Prince Manvendra had been out to his family for years - almost as long as he had quietly been involved in gay and HIV groups - he did not speak publicly about his sexuality until last year.

After he granted the Times of India an interview in which he discussed being gay, his family fearing reprisals from the public disowned him.

He was stripped of his title, inheritance, and all rights. Manvendra learned of the decision by his father only be reading announcements placed in local newspapers by the Royal Family. (story)
In a follow-up interview with The Times of India the prince said that he was not altogether surprised.

He told the paper that he had come out to his family in 2002. "However, they may not have expected that I would go public with the issue."

This month his father, one of the richest men in India, softened his stance. (story)

"I was in an awkward situation and didn't know how do deal with it. Relatives from all over the country called me up. Rajpipla is a conservative place. Women still cover their heads with a pallu; sex is a taboo topic to talk about. I was in the line of fire," Raghubir Singh Gohil told the Times.

Manvendra is Raghubir's only son and within weeks they were reunited and the prince's titles restored.
© 2007

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