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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs