Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, a member of one of India’s oldest royal families, made headlines across the globe in 2006 when he came out as gay, making him the modern world’s first openly gay prince. Although Mavendra endured a sea of ridicule after coming out, he has since dedicated his life to helping LGBT people across the globe. And recently he spoke with Oprah Winfrey about equal rights for gay people in India.
Mavendra is no stranger to witnessing the discrimination that can come from being openly gay in the world. After coming out as gay, his father refused to accept his son’s sexuality, and Mavendra’s mother publicly disowned him as her son. Making matters worse was the fact that Mavendra faced imprisonment for a term between 10 years to life because of India’s anti-gay law.
However, after three years, Mavendra’s parents seemed to finally accept him. And thanks in part to Mavendra’s efforts, the Indian government not only got rid of its anti-gay laws, but it also began allowing gay pride parades.
Sadly, in a recent interview with Winfrey on “Where Are They Now?” Mavendra explained that the progress made in his home country has begun to be erased.
“We’ve gone back to square one, to 150 years,” Prince Manvendra now says in the above video. “That period of four and a half years when we had enjoyed our freedom has been suddenly snatched away from us.”
Mavendra went on to explain that gay people in India are back to feeling terror over the nation’s homophobia.
“When I say that the homosexuals are not free in India, we don’t have the freedom to love. All of us are scared,” Prince Manvendra says. “Imagine those who have fallen in love, they’ve had partners in their lives, they’ve had boyfriends, they want to go for long-term relationships — are now all scared. That’s where we are losing our freedom.”
In 2014, Mavendra launched the Free Gay India Movement, which aims to do away with India’s anti-gay laws.
“The Free Gay India campaign is aimed at the law which is criminalizing the homosexual population in India,” he explains. “We would like to connect more and more people into it.”
Unfortunately, Mavendra explains that his relationship with his mother has also regressed when it comes to her feelings about his sexuality.
“She still doesn’t talk to me. We almost ran into each other in the palace, but, of course, we kind of ignore each other as if we don’t exist,” he said. “I have always respected her. I have no ill feelings toward her, but I would never do anything to go against her.”