Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly hopes her new Bollywood-style UN video on gay rights will spread a broader message of the need to change not just laws but also attitudes and to challenge stereotypes about the lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender community (LGBT).
The 32-year old former Miss India was last year nominated by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as a UN Equality Champion in recognition of her support for LGBT rights.
Jaitly stars in the two-and-a-half-minute video titled ‘The Welcome’ which is about a young man who brings his boyfriend home to meet his family for the first time. The video promotes the UN’s Free and Equal campaign championing equality for LGBT people and an end to homophobia.
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“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,” Jaitly told reporters here yesterday during a news conference.
Jaitly, a mother of two-year old twins, said she has received threats for supporting gays and lesbians but will continue to work towards equality for the community.
“I have sustained this journey despite threats from many opposing parties, threats to my children, to myself and character assassination. It’s been a very, very long journey… I suffered a lot sometimes because there were people who would not want to work with me because I was supporting gay rights,” she said.
Jaitly said the video has got tremendous response from people not only in India but from other parts of the world. The video has been seen by more than 145,000 people around the world, including Mexico and Japan, since it was launched in Mumbai last week.
Jailty voiced concern over the Indian Supreme Court’s decision to reinstate a British colonial-era law banning gay sex, saying that she brings to the UN “a special message on behalf of millions of Indians from the LGBT community today who stand on the threshold of living a life in imprisonment (because) of their personal issues.”
“We are on a very strange threshold. We are hoping that the Supreme Court will agree to hear the curative petition which is the last resort of the people who are fighting for rights of the LGBT community,” she said adding that she hopes the apex court “upholds the promise of the Constitution to the citizens of India.”
She said that political parties in India should keep aside their differences on the issue and help pass a bill that is “for the people, of the people and by the people”.
In the video, Jaitly said while its style is Indian, it has a global message and added that hopefully the universal language of music will help garner support for the LGBT community across the world.
In a message during the launch of the video, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had applauded India’s human rights activists and film fraternity for standing up for the rights of lesbians and gays as he called for the immediate repeal of all laws criminalising consensual same-sex relationships.
Ban said he hopes that the video will carry a message of equality to millions of people.