M&C Saatchi creates hard hitting ‘illegal to be you’ global viral campaign

M&C Saatchi has created a hard hitting viral campaign for The Kaleidoscope Trust – a charity that works around the world to promote diversity and respect for all, regardless of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.  Fronted by John Barrowman and supported by other high profile celebrities such as Elton John, the initiative called ‘illegal to be you,’ is designed to make people aware that in many countries it is still a crime to be gay.

The facts:

Presently 78 countries persecute people for being gay, including Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica

In five of those the maximum penalty is death, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania and Sudan)

Carrie Hindmarsh, CEO of M&C Saatchi, commented: “the statistics on this issue are truly shocking and we are determined to make a difference with the ‘illegal to be you’ campaign.

The viral, scheduled to launch today, timed to coincide with London’s hosting of World Pride, will on YouTube as well as the Kaleidoscope website. The film asks people to ‘imagine if it were illegal for you to be you’. It aims to provoke individuals to think about what it would be like if something intrinsic about them was illegal, for example, the colour of their eyes, hair or even their height.

The campaign will also encourage people to trend the hashtag #illegaltobeyou on twitter via YouTube and other supporting promotional materials including Posters, leaflets and Kaleidoscope T-shirts. The front of the T-shirts feature a controversial statement such as ‘Blond Scum’ and ‘Blue Eyed Freak.’

John Barrowman said: “The video is powerful stuff. It brings home to people how they would feel if some crazy law made it illegal for them simply to be themselves. What if it were illegal for me to want to sing? Or to have an American accent?  People – whether gay or straight – need to wake up to the scale of the injustice that is going on out there.”

The film was directed by leading international documentary maker, Srik Narayanan who has made a number of compelling and high-profile films for Channel 4, the BBC and broadcasters around the world. He specialises in making distinctive and intelligent films that seek out compelling and challenging human narratives, which require imaginative and unconventional methods of visual storytelling.

Narayanan commented: "It's a privilege to be involved in such an important campaign. I am sure that the film I've created with 76 Ltd and M&C Saatchi will shock and provoke. But I hope it will also inspire people to take action which could change the lives of those who suffer abuse across the world."

Harjeet Johal, Deputy Director, The Kaleidoscope Trust, added: “It is our hope that the ‘illegal to be you’ film that M&C Saatchi have created will serve as a powerful reminder of the injustice many gay people face around the world.”

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