Bollywood needs more LGBT films, says top movie star

One of Bollywood’s top movie stars has called for more LGBT representation within the Bollywood film industry.

Actor Manoj Bajpayee, who has worked in Bollywood since 1994, recently spoke out about the need for diverse LGBT stories and films in the multi-billion dollar Hindi-language film industry.

Speaking at the Bagri Foundation London Indian Film Festival on Thursday, the 49-year-old told Reuters: “There is not enough portrayal or enough films on LGBT rights or LGBT issues in our industry.”

Manoj Bajpayee (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for DIFF)

Bajpayee is perhaps best known for his role in the 2016 film Aligarh, where he played a gay professor.

The actor highlighted that while there is a considerable way to go, LGBT stories in Bollywood had become more common in recent years.

“Earlier these topics were ignored or shoved under the carpet,” he said.

The actor went on to discuss colonial-era penal code Section 377, which criminalises sex “against the order of nature,” and has widely been used to clamp down on the LGBT community in India.

Bajpayee in 2013 (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

There have been positive signs from the Supreme Court in recent years indicating that justices could strike down the anti-gay law.

The court last year appeared to affirm that LGBT people deserve a basic right to a private life, while hearing a privacy case unrelated to the challenge against Section 377.

The nine-judge court affirmed: “Sexual orientation is an essential attribute of privacy.

Protesters against Section 377 (SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

“Discrimination against an individual on the basis of sexual orientation is deeply offensive to the dignity and self-worth of the individual.

“Equality demands that the sexual orientation of each individual in society must be protected on an even platform.

“The right to privacy and the protection of sexual orientation lie at the core of the fundamental rights guaranteed by [the Constitution].”

Protesters against Section 377 (SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Bajpayee welcomed the hopeful change, stating: “[It] is a sign of a healthy society if each and every citizen of our country is given the rights to live and live in the manner they want to live.”

India’s Supreme Court is expected to rule on the colonial-era law within the coming months, prompting hopes that the law would finally be repealed.

In January, a coalition of Indian Churches joined the calls for Section 377 to be repealed.

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), which represents about 14 million people, published an open letter arguing homosexuality should be decriminalised.