The support center for LGBT, which will be named Hanumanteshwar 1927, will be based on the grounds of Prince Manvendra’s palace in the Indian state of Gujarat, as reported by DNA India.
Over the past decades, LGBT people have gained more and more acceptance in India, especially in big cities. Many bars have gay nights, and some high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues. Nonetheless, most LGBT people in India remain in the closet, in fear of discrimination from families, who see homosexuality as shameful, according to Times of India.
“It is important for the LGBT community to go to a place where they can experience the freedom to be who they are even if it’s for a moment,” Prince Manvendra told Gay Star News when interviewed about the centre.
Along with advocacy organization, Lakshya trust – of which he is the chair and co-founder – Prince Manvendra will soon break ground on Hanumanteshwar 1927, a place where all people can come to feel safe since the LGBTQI community face legal and social difficulties not experienced by “straight” persons in India, as reported by Gay Star News.
“It is important for the LGBT community to go to a place where they can experience the freedom to be who they are even if it’s for a moment. This center will give them the independence to do all those things which they are unable to do living a double life in the society.” he claimed.
Prince Manvendra also spoke about how coming out has changed his life for good, despite the backlash from his family.
“When I came out in 2006, my own family disowned me and other royal families boycotted me. I see similar things happening to other people and they are left devastated.” The prince said.
The fact that he has been disowned by his family, however, is likely to remain a symbolic act rather than a legally enforceable disinheritance, given India’s modern inheritance laws. (Los Angeles Times)
Although, the prince recommended the LGBT community to be on their own and have their own social standing before coming out (Pink News) since it can be tough for the community he represents to be integrated in society affected by complex system of rigid social norms.
According to DNA India, the community centre Gohil plans to set up would sprawl the 15-acre property he owns in Rajpipla and would offer a shelter home, training and workshops and also host motivational talks. A rudimentary form of the centre is already up and running in Rajpipla, with an inmate from New Jersey in residence, but Gohil is looking for funds and ideas to develop it further.
“The structure is already there; it is on the banks of the Narmada in a very peaceful and non-polluted part of India. It runs entirely on solar energy and can accommodate about 10 people at present. The land is not an issue; the problem is resources and I am fundraising across the world. When money comes, I will build more homes but by the end of 2018, it will be functional and start housing people,” says Gohil who wants to be successful in this daedalian venture.
Prince Manvendra actions to empower the local LGBT community, by daring to create an center specialized in the assistance of those who are struggling against homopobhia seems to be remarkable but there is a long steep way to go before Indian idiosyncracy matures and accepts them.