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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More