Tuesday, January 02, 2007

An Indian Prince Fights Back

LA Times article today about an Indian prince who came out of the closet in a country where it's still illegal to be gay. As I said in a previous blog entry, it is time for India to grow up. Gay people have had enough of being marginalized and locked into prison for the simple act of being in love with someone bigoted straight people don't approve of.
"The headline was: 'The Prince of Rajpipla Declares That He's a Homosexual,' " Gohil said with a rueful chuckle. "The newspaper sold like hotcakes."

In the uproar that followed, disgusted residents in Gohil's hometown flung his photograph onto a bonfire.

His parents publicly disowned their only son, printing notices in the press that he was cut off as heir because of his involvement in "activities unacceptable to society." Gohil's mother has threatened contempt proceedings against anyone who refers to him as her son.

For scandal-mongers, the tale of India's gay prince is an irresistibly juicy affair full of details worthy of a tabloid tell-all: his teenage affair with a servant boy, a sexless marriage to a minor princess, a nervous breakdown.

For Gohil, his very public unmasking has brought him a bully pulpit from which to speak out against a law that makes him not just a pariah of noble birth but also a common criminal.

Here in the world's largest democracy, home to 1.1 billion people, sex between two people of the same gender remains a punishable offense. Decades after India threw off the yoke of British rule, the country still clings to a Victorian-era statute established by its colonial masters nearly 150 years ago, which demands up to life in prison for anyone committing "carnal intercourse against the order of nature."

In practice, few prosecutions are brought to court. But reports abound of police using the law to harass and blackmail gay men and lesbians.
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