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30 May 2016

Watch: Ian Mckellen and Sonam Kapoor open South Asia's largest LGBT film festival

The seventh edition of the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival opened on Wednesday

British actor Sir Ian McKellen and Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor lit a ceremonial lamp at the iconic Liberty Cinema in Mumbai to signal the start of the LGBT film festival which will run until May 29. Over the five day festival 182 films from 53 countries, including 27 Indian films, will be screened at three different venues in South Mumbai.

"On my first visit to Mumbai, I am very pleased to attend the opening night of Kashish 2016. For many years, gay characters appeared in films only as comic relief. Increasingly, the film industry has matured. I look forward to Kashish and to discovering more about Bollywood filmmakers who reject fantasy for truth," said McKellen.

"Kashish is a wonderful opportunity that brings together talented filmmakers and the society, advocating a change in the mindset. Movies have immense power to influence people. Every person in India is guaranteed equality and right to life and liberty, which includes the right to love a person of one's choice, irrespective of gender. The universal language that moves the world is that of love. It's time for the society to speak out against the law that criminalises love," said Sonam Kapoor.

In an interview with the Mumbai Mirror on Tuesday, Mckellen caused a bit of a stir by referring to Singapore as a dictatorship. "See, that is the great irony. You can have a dictatorship, you can have laws that criminalise homosexuality, but gay men will find a way to live a life, have fun," he said.

He also commented that homophobes needed to "grow up."

"India is going through what the U.K. went through 30 years ago," he continued. "It is appalling and ironical that India would use a colonial law to oppress its homosexuals. India needs to grow up. India needs to realize that it doesn't need to follow British laws anymore," he said of India's anti-gay law Section 377.

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 ILGA Asia - Fridae partner for LGBT rights in Asia IGLHRC - Fridae Partner for LGBT rights in Asia