Manvendra Singh Gohil: The Gay Prince of Rajpipla
Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is the first openly gay member of India’s royalty, but when he first came out in a newspaper splash, he was shunned not just by the local community of Rajpipla, but by his own parents too. But the prince is made of sturdy stuff and today the 41-year-old, who now describes himself as a gay activist, is committed to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS through his non-governmental organisation, the Lakshya Trust.
India now has the largest number of people in the world living with HIV/AIDS and the Lakshya Trust was set up by Manvendra and his friends to target HIV prevention among men who have sex with men – MSM as they are known, which includes men who may also be in relationships with women. Increasingly there is talk of the ‘feminisation’ of the epidemic in India, with the UN recording that nearly 40% of HIV cases are women who are mostly infected by their husbands.
At the Lakshya Trust, based in the conservative state of Gujarat, Manvendra believes three-quarters of the men they have contact with are married. So in a ground-breaking move for an Indian NGO, the Trust began to train female outreach workers to target married women who might be vulnerable to contracting HIV from their husbands.
In Crossing Continents Linda Pressly profiles the Prince of Rajpipla and in a series of candid interviews she meets men and women whose married lives stray far from what is considered the norm in India.
Reporter: Linda Pressly
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith