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Gay Indian prince urges his country to decriminalise homosexuality

2017-02-28
India's first royal prince to come out publicly as gay has has called on the country's government to scrap laws criminalising homosexuality. Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, whose decision to come out publicly in 2006 made headlines around the world, made the comments at a Pride march in the city of Nagpur earlier this month, where he was serving as a key guest of honour. Gohil, who is the heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in the north-western province of Gujarat, said that India needed to abolish colonial anti-gay laws if they want to be taken seriously on the global stage. "If India wants to be respected across the world, it can’t ignore the basic rights of the LGBT people," he said. The 51-year-old, who divorced his wife in 1992 after less than a year of marriage and has consistently used his platform to campaign for LGBT issues since coming out, continued: "As the largest democracy, it is high time that India scrapped the outdated laws imposed by the colonial government and gives equal rights to the LGBT people." Homosexuality was first criminalised in India in 1860, shortly after official British rule began. In 2009, a Delhi High Court ruling overturned the law, before it was controversially reinstated in 2013 following a Supreme Court ruling. The Supreme Court has so far refused to re-examine the issue, while a bill to decriminalise homosexuality was comprehensively rejected by the Indian parliament in December 2016. Despite the setbacks, calls for gay rights continue to grow in a country characterised by huge disparities in wealth, religion and culture. Last month, a Pride parade took place in India's largest city of Mumbai for a 10th consecutive year, attracting thousands of LGBT people and allies calling for the repeal of anti-gay laws. More stories: Men of 'Moonlight' star in new Calvin Klein underwear campaign Paul O’Grady recalls the horror of the AIDS crisis in brand new Attitude Heroes podcast