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India’s First Lesbian Ad Breaks Records (and Maybe the Law)

The ad, from fashion company Anouk Ethnic apparel, scored over 3 million hits across social medin in just ten days.

India’s First Lesbian Ad Breaks Records (and Maybe the Law)

In India, homosexuality is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. And while laws often lag behind on-the-ground movements, it was still remarkable for many Indians to turn on their TVs last week and watch their country’s first ad featuring a lesbian couple. In just 10 days, across Facebook, Twitter, and various forms of social media, the ad has scored over 3 million hits.


The ad was released for the fashion company, Anouk Ethnic apparel, and produced by ad agency Oglivy & Mather, Bangalore. Avishek Ghosh, co-partner of the production house that made the video, told The Times of India: “We tried to avoid the stereotypes associated with gay people. There was no one woman looking more masculine or feminine in the film. We tried to give it a candid feel like it is any other couple being apprehensive about meeting the parents.” The ad, producers stressed, was meant not to exoticize the couple’s sexuality, but showcase their humanity (and sell a ton of clothes).

Ghosh’s ad, it appears, is ahead of its time. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that homosexuality was illegal in India. Just this past April, India’s nominee for Mr. Gay had to withdraw due to threats from his family. But while homophobia may be rampant, critics have argued that India is far more progressive when it comes to transgender rights than here in the United States.

Ads may not engender actual policy change (too often, they can hide, or pinkwash, real abuses). Less interesting than the ad’s production is an audience’s response to it. 3 million hits has got to mean something, and something good.

Image via YouTube

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