The Dalai Lama apologized Monday after he was caught on camera kissing a young boy on the lips and asking the boy to “suck my tongue.”
“His Holiness wishes to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused,” read a statement on the Dalai Lama’s website.
The boy was part of a charity group that visited the 87-year-old Dalai Lama in February at his exile headquarters at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharamsala, India.
The video shows the boy approaching the Dalai Lama and asking him for a hug. The Buddhist spiritual leader tells the boy to join him on stage.
The Dalai Lama then directs the boy to kiss him on the cheek, which he does. The two then embrace.
After the embrace, the Dalai Lama tells the boy, “I think here also” and points at his lips. He then pulls the boy in close and kisses him.
The Dalai Lama continues holding the boy’s face. He then says “and suck my tongue.” The boy initially pulls away, but the Dalia Lama holds him and they again touch foreheads. The video does not show the boy sucking the Dalai Lama’s tongue.
“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,” read Monday’s statement. “He regrets the incident.”
The boy has not been publicly identified and his family has made no public statements since the event in February.
Though the Dalai Lama is one of the world’s most respected spiritual leaders, he has not been immune from cultural controversy. In 2015, he said if his successor was to be a woman “then her face must be attractive.”
In 2019, he was given an opportunity to walk those comments back, but instead he doubled down and said, “If female Dalai Lama comes, then she should be more attractive.” Days later, he finally apologized.
The current Dalai Lama is the 14th in a line dating back to 1391. His followers believe he is a reincarnation of his 13 predecessors.
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