One of the top two richest actors in the world has said that growing up, he thought “lesbian was the capital of Portugal.”
Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, who added another $33 million to his estimated $600 million fortune last year, was speaking in a TED Talk in Vancouver.
He told the crowd that during his formative years as the son of a freedom fighter in a refugee colony in New Delhi, “the framework of life was very, very simple”.
“You just ate what you got and did whatever you were told to do,” he explained.
“I really thought that gay was a sophisticated English word for happy.
“And lesbian of course was the capital of Portugal, as you all know.”
He also said he thought that “celiac was a vegetable, and vegan, of course, was Mr. Spock’s lost comrade in Star Trek.”
But the 51-year-old actor, known in India as the King of Bollywood or King Khan, told the crowd he had changed his outlook in the intervening years.
After moving to Mumbai and becoming the country’s biggest film star, he learned more about the world.
And he had a message for all minorities, including LGBT people.
Khan said that if he could succeed, anyone could, pointing out that “India decided somehow that I, the Muslim son of a broke freedom fighter who accidentally ventured into the business of selling dreams, should become its king of romance … the greatest lover the country has ever seen – with this face.”
And he assured the audience that “the present you is brave. The present you is hopeful.
“The present you is innovative and resourceful, and of course, the present you is annoyingly indefinable.”
Last month, India passed a “historic” law ensuring equal rights for people with HIV or AIDS.
The Parliament in New Delhi unanimously agreed to implement The HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill, which outlaws discrimination against those with HIV/AIDS.
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Nearly half of all trans children are subjected to violence before they turn 18.
And figures released earlier this year revealed that the great majority of trans people in the country are missing out on the electoral process because they do not have sufficient ID.
Just four percent of the trans community are enrolled in voter lists, according to the Election Commission of India’s statistics.
In April, at least 300 people celebrated the first queer pride parade in Lucknow, a city in the north of the country.
Members from both the LGBT and straight communities took to the streets in solidarity nearly 18 years after Kolkata held the first pride event in the country.
Also last month, the Indian government told its states to view trans people as equal, and allow them to use any public toilet they choose “without any embarrassment.”
Watch the full video below: