LGBT rights in India: Gay Bollywood video released by UN

As part of the campaign for LGBT rights in India, the United Nations Free & Equal campaign has released a new gay Bollywood music video.

The short film, entitled “The Welcome”, revolves around the story of a man bringing his special “friend” home to meet his family, and explores the reception that he and his partner receive from the extended family.

Bollywood star, former Miss India and Miss Universe runner up, Celina Jaitly, features in the video. She explains through song that being gay is “a new look. It’s a new attitude… as long as in the world of love two people want to be with each other”.

Celina Jaitly has played an important role in publicizing the case for repeal of Section 377 of India’s criminal code, a colonial-era provision that criminalizes same-sex relationships.

Since December 13, 2013 – when the Supreme Court of India overturned a 2009 judgement by the High Court of Delhi that declared Section 377 as unconstitutional – the original version of the colonial-era section is back in place, leaving LGBT people without rights and facing the prospect of lifetime imprisonment because of their sexual orientation. Homosexual intercourse is a criminal offense under section 377. Celina continues to focus her boundless energy on the quest for greater respect for the rights of LGBT people in India and beyond.

The use of a Bollywood video that combines a gay theme forms part of the UN’s Free & Equal campaign, which is an unprecedented public health initiative launched by the UN in July 2013 to tackle inequalities faced by LGBT people in many countries. As the Guardian’s interactive map of LGBT rights around the world shows, more than 2.7 billion people live in countries where being gay is a crime. So the Free & Equal campaign is an important and timely initiative from the UN.

Since its launch, celebrities from all around the world have supported the Free & Equal project. This includes a number who have specifically pledged their support by becoming UN equality champions.

In “The Welcome” below, the UN draws attention to the need for LGBT equality in India and beyond.

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