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Indian prince fights for homosexual rights. -

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Indian Crown Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil is in Australia as he pushes to abolish laws against
homosexuality in the region.

The ABC warns this story contains sexual references.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: International students have been angered by the financial collapse of four
private colleges. Many of them are Indian students.

Their plight has concerned visiting Indian Crown Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil. He's the world's
only openly gay royal and he's visiting Australia as part of a push to strike out laws
criminalising homosexuality in the Asia Pacific region. And a warning: this story contains sexual
references. Karen Barlow reports.

KAREN BARLOW, REPORTER: Manvendra Singh Gohil is on a different path than other royals. In a
country where gay sex is illegal, the Crown Prince of the western India state of Rajpipla stunned
India in 2005 by coming out as a gay man.

CROWN PRINCE MANVENDRA: I was never admitting that I'm a criminal. I was feeling rather proud that
I'm gay and though I had the guilt feeling in the beginning, but I overcame that.

KAREN BARLOW: He was disowned by his parents and angry locals burnt princely effigies in the

CROWN PRINCE MANVENDRA: I have again reconciled with my family and the people are also beginning to
understand my issues, because I always mention that I don't blame the society, but I blame their

MAN: He's quite inspirational in a way because I feel that my identity is more solidified knowing
that he's actually out there doing things.

KAREN BARLOW: Prince Manvendra says Hindi culture never banned homosexuality; that is, until the
British arrived.

The ancient Indian sex manual the Karma Sutra has a whole chapter on gay sex.

CROWN PRINCE MANVENDRA: Well, homosexuality has been existing in our country since the bygone era,
but because of the hypocrisy in our country, they still think it's a Western influence.

KAREN BARLOW: The New Delhi High Court ruled this year in support of decriminalising homosexuality,
but it's still essentially illegal in India. The crime attracts long jail terms. In Bangladesh and
Singapore gays can be punished with life in gaol and in neighbouring Islamic Pakistan, it attracts
the death penalty.

Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil says driving gay sex underground puts people at risk of HIV

CROWN PRINCE MANVENDRA: Well, India again happens to be the country in which the HIV infections are
the second highest in the world, and that makes the women more vulnerable in our country because
the fact is that 80 or 85 per cent of our gay men are married to women, and because of that, it's
getting beyond control and this epidemic has not been - I mean, we are not able to succeed in
controlling this epidemic in our country.

KAREN BARLOW: The prince's first visit to Australia has been a fact-finding mission, meeting the
Indian Consul-General, Australian Government and health representatives as well as members of the
local gay community. Australia has managed to generally keep a cap on HIV infection rates since the
1980s due to condom and clean needle distribution, education, testing and treatment and the
decriminalisation of homosexuality.

STEPHEN SCOTT, AIDS COUNCIL OF NSW: There's no question that the challenges facing legal reform of
homosexuality in India is formidable, but I think we've seen that there is some movement happening
in India now towards this.

KAREN BARLOW: The plight of Indian students in Australia has also caught the prince's attention.
The collapse of four private colleges in Sydney and Melbourne today has renewed concern about the
standard of education on offer and there are still fears they're at risk of late-night assault and
exploitation in the workplace.

CROWN PRINCE MANVENDRA: I have been quite concerned and worried about it, but I am sure that
Government of Australia is working towards in the right direction and I'm pretty sure that some
solution will be arrived very soon.

KAREN BARLOW: Prince Manvendra says he's hoping for a swift movement to gay law reform as well.
Karen Barlow, Lateline.