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Updated: August 26, 2013 19:21 IST

Real purpose

NEETI SARKAR
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Celina Jaitley
AP Celina Jaitley

Celina Jaitly, the UN equality champion, talks about taking up the cause of the LGBT community

In the recent past, she’s been in the news more for her staunch support to the homosexual community in India than for her films, but that doesn’t seem to bother her. Former Miss India and Bollywood actress, Celina Jaitly, has now been chosen as a UN equality champion for their latest campaign.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has recently launched Free & Equal, an unprecedented global public education campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. The year-long campaign will focus on the need for both legal reforms and public education to counter homophobia and transphobia.

Citing the example of the homosexual AMU professor who was suspended and later found dead, in a telephonic interaction, Celina says: “One’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with how good or bad a person is in his/her field of study or work. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world in which everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights yet it’s sad that many people from the LGBT community are forced to deal with hatred, violence, abuse and discrimination on a daily basis simply because the society is misinformed about an issue like this.”

Ask her how she plans to take her support forward and the actress responds: “Changing attitude is difficult but not impossible and given that we live in an age where social media is big.”

Expressing her disappointment that 76 countries still criminalise consensual, same-sex relationships, Celina says, “My close association with two people of a different sexual orientation is the biggest reason why I voice my opinion about and fight for the rights of this community. One of them brought me pain and the other blessing. My first boyfriend was a closeted homosexual who died of bulimia-induced problems. It was a traumatic relationship. The other is from the industry and to whom I largely owe my success as a beauty queen.”

The actress has taken a sabbatical from films but says she will be back in action soon with her home production. In the meanwhile, she’s enjoying being a mother to her twins. “Before a party or a premiere, I usually grab my bag and throw my make up into it. Last week, when my husband and I were to set out for the evening, I was busy shoving my Gucci bag with baby pacifiers,” she quips.

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