Anjali Gopalan

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Anjali Gopalan
Anjali Gopalan.jpg
Gopalan, circa 2009
Born (1957-09-01) 1 September 1957 (age 63)
Madras, Madras State, India[1]
OccupationLGBT rights activist,[2] Executive Director of The Naz Foundation (India) Trust[3]
AwardsChevalier de la Legion d'Honneur

Anjali Gopalan About this soundpronunciation  (born 1 September 1957) is an Indian human rights and animal rights activist, founder and executive director of The Naz Foundation (India) Trust, an NGO dedicated to the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic in India mainly focused on women and children. Anjali began working on issues related to HIV/AIDS and marginalized communities in the United States. In 2012, Time placed Gopalan on its list of the 100 most influential people in the world.[4]

Early life[edit]

Anjali Gopalan was born in 1957 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Her father, Group Captain Dr KR Gopalan, was an officer in the Indian Air Force and her Punjabi mother a homemaker. Anjali did her schooling in La Martiniere Lucknow.

She studied in both India and the US, and her degree in political science from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, a postgraduate diploma in journalism, and a Masters in international development from Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Social work[edit]

"It is a reflection of what we are doing with our minorities. Be it in Kashmir, be it in the North East, be it rights for the sexual minority, animal rights, it is the same attitude. We are becoming more and more intolerant of the other". All individuals, if you give them the space, will prove to be productive citizens. "But if you impose your sets of right and wrong and therefore they have no right to live, then what can you expect from people?”[5]

— Anjali Gopalan on re-criminalisation of homosexuality in India

Early work[edit]

Anjali worked for nearly a decade with community-based organizations in New York City where she worked for migrants from South-East Asia who lacked valid documents. She later started the Naz Foundation that changed the lives of LGBT and women's and children those who live with HIV positive. Providing direct services for HIV/AIDS and Marginalization issues. Circumstances led her to live and care HIV affected undocumented migrant labor, schoolchildren, and South Asian communities.[1][6]


When Anjali returned to India, She established Delhi's first HIV clinic in 1994 and the Naz Foundation (India) Trust, an HIV/AIDS service organization that concentrates on prevention and care. The foundation currently works on issues of sexuality rights.


In 2000, she opened the country's first holistic home cares for orphaned vulnerable HIV+ children and Women. She trains health professionals and care-givers to treat HIV+ children, and recognizes that existing facilities need to expand their scope to include them. She has designed a system that provides multi-faceted care to infected children, both in the home and in foster care.

Her main concern remains in providing quality care to those living with the HIV infection, which she has done through founding and managing a care home for HIV-positive children and women. As a strong advocate for the sexual health and rights of the LGBT community, she spearheaded the eight-year legal battle against Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). In 2001, her organization filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to decriminalize homosexuality and put an end to the archaic law under which individuals were harassed and discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. The Delhi High Court ruled in favour of Naz India in 2009 and declared Section 377 an infringement on individual rights.[citation needed]

Asia's first Genderqueer Pride Parade at Madurai with Gopi Shankar Madurai and Anjali Gopalan[7][8]
"When I started working in the 1990s on addressing rights of gay men, I never thought that I would be sitting in a place like Madurai and discussing about LGBT issues, I feel very ecstatic."[9]

— Anjali Gopalan, on the Alan Turing Rainbow Festival Organized by Srishti Madurai

In 2001, she was awarded the Commonwealth Award for her work with the marginalized communities. The Chennai-based Manava Seva Dharma Samvardhani presented her the Sadguru Gnanananda Award in 2003, for her work in supporting those living with HIV/AIDS.[citation needed]

In March 2007, Gopalan was honored as a Woman Achiever by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, along with nine other awardees. She was felicitated by Sri Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker of the Lok Sahba, in the presence of Minister of State for Women and Child Development. On 29 July 2012, Gopalan inaugurated the Alan Turing Rainbow festival and flag offed the Asia's first Genderqueer pride parade as a part of the Turing festival organised by Gopi Shankar Madurai of Srishti Madurai this was the first Gay Pride parade attended by Gopalan.[10] Since 2 September 2012, she has served as the Advisory head of the committee of Srishti Madurai.[7][11]

On 25 October 2013, Gopalan was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur in the order of the legions of Honor, the highest award from France presented to her by Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister of Women's Rights for France. Gopalan is the first Indian Tamil woman awarded with "Legion of Honour".[12][13]

In 2014, the Limca Book of Records placed Anjali Gopalan in "People of the Year".[14]

Actor Nutan Surya played the role of Anjali in Aligarh released in 2016.

Awards and Recognition[edit]

  • Received the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur (2013)
  • Ms Gopalan was named one of TIME Magazine's '100 Most Influential People in the World (2012)
  • Received the Woman Achiever Award from Government of India (2007)
  • Received the Commonwealth Award (2001)


Anjali Gopalan Srishti Awards for Social Justice Journalism[edit]

The Academic committee of Srishti Madurai awards the Anjali Gopalan (AG) Srishti Awards for Social Justice Journalism to distinguished social Journalists. The first award was received by V. Mayilvaganan and V. Narayanswamy from The Times of India for highlighting issues of genderqueer and Santhi Soundarajan.[16]


  1. ^ a b "World People's Blog". Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  2. ^ Activists welcome India gay ruling BBC 3 July 2009 06:55 UK
  3. ^ About Naz India Archived 29 June 2012 at Naz Foundation (India) Trust retrieved 14 May 2012
  4. ^ The 100 Most Influential People in the World: Anjali Gopalan Time Magazine 18 April 2012, retrieved 13 May 2012
  5. ^ Pisharoty, Sangeeta Barooah (20 December 2013). "Popular and personal" – via The Hindu.
  6. ^ "Anjali Gopalan - Ashoka - Innovators for the Public". Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b "One Who Fights For an Other". The New Indian Express.
  8. ^ "Worldwide gay rights as a social movement picks up". Archived from the original on 2 August 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
  9. ^ "NATIONAL TAMIL NADU: Madurai comes out of the closet". The Hindu. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
  10. ^ "Weekend Xpress :: Trendsetter". Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Shri. Chevalier, Anjali Gopalan". Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  12. ^ "Clipping of The New Indian Express-Madurai". Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  13. ^ Press Trust of India (25 October 2013). "French award for Anjali Gopalan". Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Naz Foundation – Accepting alternative sexualities |". Retrieved 15 June 2019.
  16. ^ Gopi Shankar. "Srishti Madurai". Retrieved 20 March 2015.