News / Asia

UN Ramps Up 'Free & Equal' LGBT Campaign

U.N. Human Rights Office (OHCHR) Bollywood-style music video to promote UN Free and Equal campaign raising awareness about homophobia and encouraging greater respect for rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people. (OHCHR and its partn
U.N. Human Rights Office (OHCHR) Bollywood-style music video to promote UN Free and Equal campaign raising awareness about homophobia and encouraging greater respect for rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people. (OHCHR and its partn
Margaret Besheer
The United Nations is using a new Bollywood-style video to ramp up its “Free and Equal” Campaign to advance the rights of, and end discrimination against, homosexuals and transgender persons. The colorful video is intended to help get a conversation going about global gay rights.

“It’s a new look. It’s a new attitude,” sings Bollywood star Celina Jaitly as she gyrates to the tune of a 1979 Hindi hit remade for the 21st century.

The former Miss India and Bollywood star has brought her fame and commitment to gay rights to the U.N. campaign launched in July.

The two-and-a-half-minute video that debuted last week in Mumbai is meant to challenge stereotypes.

An Indian family is preparing a party for their returning son, but when he arrives with a man on his arm and not a potential bride, shock spreads across their faces.

But dismay turns to approval as the song speaks of acceptance and Jaitly sings, “you are always welcome in my home.” At this, the grandmotherly matriarch of the family embraces her grandson and his partner, and the family dances together in an expression of unity, love and acceptance.

Actress and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender) activist Celina Jaitly told reporters Monday that changing attitudes often begins with difficult conversations.

“My message with this video is this: that changing of attitudes while fighting discrimination does not just begin with changing laws and policies, you also need to make a change of hearts and minds,” she said.

LGBT rights have come under attack in several countries this year.

In Uganda, where homosexuality already was illegal, the president signed into law a new bill toughening penalties against gays and making some homosexual acts crimes punishable by life in prison.

In Nigeria, the president approved a bill outlawing same-sex unions and imposing a 14-year prison term for anyone who enters one, and a 10-year jail sentence for individuals helping such a union to take place.  

And in Celina Jaitly’s native India, the Supreme Court re-criminalized consensual same-sex relationships after having decriminalized them in 2009.

Jaitly, the mother of twin two-year-old boys, has been an active campaigner for LGBT rights for a decade. She said being in the entertainment industry, she has worked with many people from the gay community and seen the hardships they endure.

“For me I do not want my posterity, my children, to grow up in an environment where people are judged based on their sexual orientation," she said. "I want my sons to grow up in a world where people are judged on the content of their character.”

She said she hopes the universal language of music will help get that message out.

The video, called “The Welcome,” has received an overwhelmingly positive response on social media since it was released last week. Nearly 150,000 people from around the world have watched it on YouTube and shared it on social media platforms.
 

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid