The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has launched the first ever Bollywood-style UN music video to promote its Free & Equal campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.
The two-and-a-half minute video, called “The Welcome”, stars actress and former Miss India Celina Jaitly. Jaitly, who was last year nominated by the High Commissioner as a “UN equality champion” in recognition of her support for LGBT equality, makes her musical debut in the video, singing a new version of the 1979 Bollywood classic, Uthe Sab Ke Kadam. The song was recomposed and remixed by Neeraj Shreedhar of the Bombay Vikings, and produced in association with the music company Saregama India. The dance moves in the video were choreographed by Longi – the choreographer for Slumdog Millionaire – who worked on the project pro bono, as did the entire cast. The concept for the video was developed by creative agency Curry Nation.
“It is an honor to partner with the United Nations on the incredibly timely and important Free & Equal campaign,” said Jaitly. “I have been working for LGBT rights for many years, and I am honored to contribute my musical debut to such a good cause. Music is a universal language. It can engage people’s passion, and that’s when good things happen.”
In this campaign, Jaitly was joined by Indian actor Imran Khan, Humsafar Trust founder Ashok Row Kavi, transgender rights activist Laxmi Tripathi, commentator and comedian Cyrus Broacha. For these LGBT allies, it is worth noting the human rights challenges facing LGBT people in India and around the world and the steps needed to combat homophobia and transphobia. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his support for the campaign and his solidarity with the LGBT community.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights 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. But change is coming. In the past few months we have seen 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.”