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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora