India's first openly-gay royalty vowed to fight conversion therapy. After surviving the horrors of conversion therapy, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil said he would work on making conversion therapy illegal in India.
Equaldex, a collaborative knowledge base for the LGBT movement, puts India in the 51st rank in their World Equality Index, including scores for legal rights and freedoms for LGBTQ+ people. Although Equaldex listed conversation therapy as banned in India, this is only valid for one state.
In 2021, the High Court of Madras in the Tamil Nadu state ruled to prohibit the discriminatory practice of conversion therapy. In his ruling, Justice N. Anand Venkatesh said, "ignorance is no justification for normalizing any form of discrimination."
He also subjected himself to a series of psycho-educative sessions. "I am also trying to break my preconceived notions about this issue, and I am in the process of evolving and sincerely attempting to understand the feelings of the Petitioners," Venkatesh said.
In 2018, India's supreme court decriminalized homosexuality. The five-judge bench ruled unanimously, stating that "the LGBTQ community has the same fundamental rights as citizens."
But conversion therapy is still practiced in the rest of India. "I have to keep fighting," Gohil said.
Gohil announced through a local newspaper that he is gay in 2006. The prince was 41-years old at that time. Speaking to the Insider, Gohil recounted the events that led to and followed his coming out more than a decade ago.
Gohil said his effigies were burnt, and a lot of protests erupted. Gohil said people took to the streets to express their opposition to his announcement. "People took to the streets and shouted slogans saying that I brought shame and humiliation to the royal family and the culture of India," he said.
"There were death threats and demands that I be stripped of my title," he added.
His parents reacted similarly.
According to the prince, his parents disowned him, going as far as publishing newspaper advertisements announcing that his status as heir was revoked due to "activities unsuitable to society."
Today, Gohil leads the fight for India's liberation against conversion therapy. He is also leading the battle against "decades of regressive mentality, ignorance, and judgment." "It's important for people like me who have a reputation in society to continue advocacy,” he said. “We can't stop because the country repealed Section 377.”
"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." the prince explained.
In 2018, Gohil opened his 15-acre palace grounds and created a center that offers assistance and refuge to members of the LGBTQ community.