Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, the only openly gay Indian royal, is opening his 15-acre palace grounds to LGBT people and their allies, reports the International Business Times.
He is defying his parents, who publicly disowned him after coming out in 2006, by launching another charity to help LGBT members in need.
The centre will be run in conjunction with the Lakshya Trust, the charity that Singh founded shortly after coming out over a decade ago. The trust is a community that advocates for “social, economical, legal, psychological, spiritual, and health aspects of sexual minorities…in the western India state of Gujarat,” according to its website.
“The fight for our rights cannot only be won in the courtrooms of our nations, but in the hearts and minds of our people,” the Lakshya Trust description states.
He is also building more structures in order to accommodate as many people as possible. Currently, two people live at his LGBT centre: the manager, who identifies as a gay man, and a trans woman from the US.
Last year, India’s Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing LGBT people to express their sexuality without discrimination, while sexual relations between people of the same gender remain illegal.
“If I could undergo these problems then any other gay person could face a similar situation,” Prince Manvendra said.
“In India we have a family system and we are mentally conditioned to be with our parents. The moment you try to come out you are told you’ll be thrown out and society will boycott you. You become a social outcast. A lot of people are financially dependent on their parents.”
Prince Manvendra came out in 2006 after divorcing a princess, causing a huge media scandal and national debate, and leading to his parents publicly disowning him. This was a huge moment for Indian history, as being gay is often considered a perversion. There is also a huge lack of gay and lesbian icons in pop culture, especially in Bollywood.