18 January 2016: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was in Dubai yesterday, 17 January 2016, for an international humanitarian conference. During a short visit, the Secretary-General met with Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly to thank her for her service to the United Nations and her support for UN Free & Equal -- the UN's global campaign for the rights of lesbian, gay, bi and trans (LGBT) people.

Celina has served as a UN Equality Champion since July 2013 and has played a leading role in the UN Free & Equal campaign, working closely with the UN Human Rights Office and undertaking advocacy missions to India, Europe and North America. In 2014, Celina helped create "The Welcome" - a Bollywood-style music video that introduced the campaign in India. In addition to starring in the video, she recorded the soundtrack - marking her debut as a recording artist. "The Welcome" quickly became the most widely watched video ever produced by the United Nations - with more than 2.5 million views on the video-sharing site YouTube and millions more watching on TV and via social media.
 
"It was a great honor to meet the Secretary-General of the United Nations," Celina said of the meeting. "I told him it had been an absolute privilege to lend my support to the vital work that the UN is doing - through its Free & Equal campaign - to challenge negative stereotypes of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people around the world. I also thanked him for his personal leadership on the issue. Ban Ki-moon is the first UN Secretary-General to have consistently spoken up in defense of equal rights for members of the LGBT community. His support sends a very powerful signal to LGBT people, far too many of whom are still today denied equal rights and fair treatment under the law." 
 
Charles Radcliffe of the UN Human Rights Office paid tribute to Celina's activism. "More than a decade ago, Celina Jaitly stood with the LGBT community in India at a time when few public figures and almost no Bollywood celebrities were willing to do so. Today, through her  involvement in the UN Free & Equal campaign, she's playing a central role in UN efforts to fight homophobia and transphobia globally. She's an outstanding advocate and ally - a true champion of equality."


Photo: UN/Mark Garten