Ms. Anjali Gopalan is the Founder and Executive Director of the Naz Foundation (India) Trust, a Delhi-based NGO dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS.
In the early 1980s, Anjali began working on issues related to HIV/AIDS and marginalized communities in the United States. Upon returning to India in the early 1990s, she was frustrated at the lack of government and civil society response to the burgeoning epidemic. In response, she founded Naz India in 1994 with the mission to focus on and support stigmatized and vulnerable communities affected by the virus. While the national programme and many NGOs were still struggling to come to terms with the issue of HIV, Anjali’s organization delved into developing a meaningful response.
In 2000 as the HIV/AIDS crisis began to leave children infected and abandoned, Anjali opened the Naz Care Home to provide a safe and supportive environment for children living with HIV. Today the Naz Care Home has given a lifetime commitment to provide a home for 29 children between the ages of five and 17 years. The Home uses a holistic approach to look after the nutritional, educational, medical and psychological needs of each child. The Naz Care Home was designated as the only Community Care Centre for Children (CCC-C) in the entire Northern region in 2009, and has been designated as a best practice in its care for children living with HIV.
As a social activist, Anjali has spoken in numerous international events about the importance of advancing research and raising awareness on HIV prevention. She has challenged both the international and Indian communities to provide a more coordinated and humane response to the epidemic.
As a strong advocate for the sexual health and rights of the LGBT community, Anjali 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. This groundbreaking ruling was a great leap towards an accepting and discrimination-free society.
Anjali Gopalan is an environmentalist and a passionate lover of animals. She sincerely believes that animals have a right to a non-speciesist, cruelty-free life. They need to be recognised as sentient beings, no different from humans, and must be included in the global social justice movement along with all the other liberation movements. Driven by this passion and love for animals, Anjali established an animal sanctuary ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ (ACGS) at Silakhari, Harayana.
ACGS’s mission is to create a gentle, nurturing, loving and compassionate sanctuary for old, sick, abandoned and lonely animals. The sanctuary believes every animal that comes through our gates is special and is worthy of quality care, good nutrition, medical attention and tons of affection. Through this sanctuary, Anjali aspires to create a happy forever home for each permanent resident till the end of their lives whether at the sancutary or through their adoption programme.
In 2001, Anjali was awarded the Commonwealth Award for her work with 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.
In 2005, she was nominated and short-listed for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work to bring harmony to those whose lives have none.
In March 2007, Anjali was honored as a Woman Achiever by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, along with nine other awardees.
In 2007 Anjali became an Ashoka Fellow in recognition of her achievements as a social entrepreneur.
In 2009 Anjali’s organization, the Naz Foundation, was nominated for the CNN-IBN Indian of the Year Award in Public Service based on its tireless work for society’s greater benefit.
Anjali was chosen for the First City 19th Annual Interview in August of 2009 after her work in dismantling Section 377.
In recognition of her work in campaigning against homophobia, Anjali was named one of Forbes India’s Top Influential People of 2009.
Anjali was recognized and highly ranked on the 2012 Time Magazine: The 100 Most Influential People in the World because of her pioneering work advancing gender rights, sexual health related to HIV/AIDS, and the care home for HIV positive orphans.
Anjali received the GR8! Special Mention – Community Service award at the 12th Kelvinator GR8! Women Awards in March 2013.