Friday, July 07, 2006

Maharaja's son is disowned after coming out as gay

By Justin Huggler in Delhi
Published: 07 July 2006
The crown prince of one of India's grandest royal families has been stripped of his inheritance and disowned by his parents - for coming out as gay.
Manvendra Sinh Gohil, the only son of the Maharaja of Rajpipla, found that he had been disinherited when he read it in Indian newspapers, where his parents had taken out advertisements to make the announcement.
"Manvendra is not in the control of his mother and involved in activities unacceptable to society," says one of the adverts, written by his mother. "Hence he ceases to have any rights as a son over the family property ... henceforth, no one must refer to my name as mother of Mavendra."
The treatment of Mr Gohil by his family has brought into stark relief attitudes towards homosexuality in modern India, where any form of sex between two people of the same gender is still illegal.
"I knew they would never accept me for who I truly am," Mr Gohil told reporters, "but I also knew I could no longer live a lie. I wanted to come out because I had gotten involved with activism and I felt it was no longer right to live in the closet. I came out as gay because I wanted people to openly discuss homsexuality since it's a hidden affair with a lot of stigma attached."
As heir to the 800-year-old throne of Rajpipla, Mr Gohil stood to inherit considerable family estates, as well as the prestige the title of maharaja still carries in republican India. But he has said he will not fight his disinheritance in the courts.
"They were afraid to even use the word gay," he told the Indian Express. "But I accept whatever my family has decided. I will abide by their decision in this matter and will not stake a claim to the property."
The reaction of Mr Gohil's family is not an isolated case. Last year, two women in their twenties who tried to live together as lovers were arrested and forcibly handed over to their parents. In January, four men were arrested in Lucknow on charges of running a "gay racket", because they frequented a gay internet chatroom.
Mr Gohil says he first began to realise he was homosexual when he was 10 years old but, for years, kept it secret and led a quiet life. In 1991, he was forced into an unhappy arranged marriage with a princess from another of India's royal families but they divorced when he admitted to her he was gay.
"Four years ago I had a nervous breakdown and through that I spoke to my psychotherapist who helped me," Mr Gohil said. "I told my parents I was gay but initially it was difficult for them to accept it. They tried to convert me to heterosexuality. The doctors told them that was not possible. And I guess they could not deal with the stigma."
The crown prince of one of India's grandest royal families has been stripped of his inheritance and disowned by his parents - for coming out as gay.
Manvendra Sinh Gohil, the only son of the Maharaja of Rajpipla, found that he had been disinherited when he read it in Indian newspapers, where his parents had taken out advertisements to make the announcement.
"Manvendra is not in the control of his mother and involved in activities unacceptable to society," says one of the adverts, written by his mother. "Hence he ceases to have any rights as a son over the family property ... henceforth, no one must refer to my name as mother of Mavendra."
The treatment of Mr Gohil by his family has brought into stark relief attitudes towards homosexuality in modern India, where any form of sex between two people of the same gender is still illegal.
"I knew they would never accept me for who I truly am," Mr Gohil told reporters, "but I also knew I could no longer live a lie. I wanted to come out because I had gotten involved with activism and I felt it was no longer right to live in the closet. I came out as gay because I wanted people to openly discuss homsexuality since it's a hidden affair with a lot of stigma attached."
As heir to the 800-year-old throne of Rajpipla, Mr Gohil stood to inherit considerable family estates, as well as the prestige the title of maharaja still carries in republican India. But he has said he will not fight his disinheritance in the courts.
"They were afraid to even use the word gay," he told the Indian Express. "But I accept whatever my family has decided. I will abide by their decision in this matter and will not stake a claim to the property."
The reaction of Mr Gohil's family is not an isolated case. Last year, two women in their twenties who tried to live together as lovers were arrested and forcibly handed over to their parents. In January, four men were arrested in Lucknow on charges of running a "gay racket", because they frequented a gay internet chatroom.
Mr Gohil says he first began to realise he was homosexual when he was 10 years old but, for years, kept it secret and led a quiet life. In 1991, he was forced into an unhappy arranged marriage with a princess from another of India's royal families but they divorced when he admitted to her he was gay.
"Four years ago I had a nervous breakdown and through that I spoke to my psychotherapist who helped me," Mr Gohil said. "I told my parents I was gay but initially it was difficult for them to accept it. They tried to convert me to heterosexuality. The doctors told them that was not possible. And I guess they could not deal with the stigma."

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