India’s first openly gay prince has told Sky News his parents tried to make him have brain surgery to change his sexuality.
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil said he felt humiliated when his mother and father sought medical help to “convert” him after he told them he was gay.
It comes after a Sky News investigation revealed doctors in India are still offering gay conversion therapy, despite the widely discredited practice being seen as “medical misconduct” by the nation’s regulators.
Prince Gohil, the heir of the Maharaja of Rajpipla in Gujarat, has launched a legal battle at India’s Supreme Court to try to get conversion therapy banned outright by law.
The court is also currently considering a bid to legalise gay marriage in the country.
Describing his own parents’ attempt to “convert” him, the royal told Sky News: “It was an absolute case of discrimination and violation of human rights. Whether I’m a prince or not a prince, parents have no right to put their children through [this] kind of torture.”
Prince Gohil said his parents visited doctors in the hope they could “perform a surgery on my brain, and even make me undergo electro shock therapy”.
However, their bid ultimately failed because doctors in the US, where they sought the “treatment”, refused to operate while pointing out that homosexually is not a mental disorder.
“It didn’t happen but imagine how much harassment one has to go through, how much humiliation one has to go through, just to endure this pain and suffering at the hands of parents – and this is happening to so many individuals in India,” he added.
The prince made headlines in 2006 when he publicly announced he was gay, leading to protests and effigies of him being burnt in his home state by angry crowds.
But Prince Gohil said he was now reconciled with his parents and was “100%” optimistic that his legal battle would succeed because “the Indian judicial system now is quite open-minded”.
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He told Sky News: “When I came out I said ‘I don’t blame my parents, I don’t blame the people that are against me, that hate me’, I blame their ignorance on this subject.
“It is a lack of education, lack of awareness which causes people to be homophobic and bigoted… It’s our duty to educate them and to make them aware about the facts.”
The turnaround by his parents has gone so well that the prince’s father has since gifted him 15 acres of land so that he can build an LGBT community building.
He admitted “it takes time” – but said he was glad his family now accepted him.