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United Nations goes ‘Bollywood’ in latest effort to promote LGBT rights

Wednesday, April 30, 2014
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MUMBAI — The United Nations human rights office on Wednesday launched the latest phase of its global fight against homophobia: a Bollywood-style video called “The Welcome,” accompanied by an appeal from the U.N. Secretary-General to end the prejudice that forces millions of LGBT people to live in fear or hide in shame.

Unveiled at a press conference in Mumbai promote the Organization’s Free and Equal campaign championing LGBT equality and an end to homophobia, the two-and-a-half-minute clip stars Bollywood actress and former Miss India Celina Jaitly, who makes her musical debut in the clip and was last year nominated by the High Commissioner for Human Rights as a UN Equality Champion in recognition of her support for LGBT rights.

The video release and press conference mark the Free and Equal campaign’s launch in India, following its inaugural kick off last year in South Africa.

“The Welcome” tells the story of a young man who brings his boyfriend home to meet his family for the first time.

Watch:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a message in which he expressed his support for the campaign and his solidarity with India’s LGBT community.

Delivered by Charles Radcliffe of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the message also reaffirmed Mr. Ban’s staunch advocacy to end prejudice and intolerance against LGBT persons.

Commenting on the launch, High Commissioner Navi Pillay said she was delighted to see the Free & Equal campaign extended to India.

“LGBT people have historically been marginalized and subjected to discrimination and violence in India, as elsewhere,” she said. “But change is coming.”

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She noted that in the past few months, India had witnessed an unprecedented level of public debate relating to the rights of LGBT people.

“As awareness grows, attitudes will change. We need to do all we can to hasten change by challenging the myths and misinformation that get in the way of understanding. That is what this campaign is all about,” said Pillay.

In December, India’s Supreme Court struck down a 2009 lower court decision that decriminalized gay sex.

The ruling dealt a blow to gay activists who have fought for years for the chance to live openly in India’s deeply conservative society, and has drawn sharp criticism from human rights advocates worldwide.

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