Bollywood Star Cleared of 'Obscenity' Charges 15 Years After Kissing Richard Gere

Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty was finally cleared of obscenity charges, 15 years after actor Richard Gere kissed her during a 2007 AIDS awareness event in Delhi, India. At the time of the event, the kiss was widely condemned by radical Hindu groups, since kissing in public is frowned upon by some groups in India. The case against Shetty was ruled "groundless" in court, as the judges ruled Shetty was the "victim of an unwanted advance," reports the BBC.

During the charity event, Gere surprisingly kissed Shetty on the cheek in an attempt to show that HIV cannot be transmitted through a kiss. Afterwards, there was an arrest warrant issued for Gere, but it was quickly dismissed after India's Supreme court ruled the claims were filed for "cheap publicity." Although the case against Gere was dismissed just months after the incident, the charges against Shetty got stalled in India's court system, reports the BBC. Her lawyers said it was not fair that she was considered a "perpetrator" because she didn't stop Gere from kissing her.

In April 2007, Gere issued an apology, saying he did not understand that Indian customs and hoped Shetty would not get caught in a media firestorm. "What is most important to me is that my intentions as an HIV/Aids advocate be made clear, and that my friends in India understand that it has never been, nor could it ever be, my intention to offend you," Gere said at the time. "If that has happened, of course it is easy for me to offer a sincere apology."

Gere also discussed the case when he stopped by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in 2007. "There is a very small, right-wing, very conservative political party in India, and they are the moral police in India and they do this kind of thing quite often," the An Officer and a Gentleman star told Stewart. "I don't know that anyone has actually gone to jail, it has to go through a process. It goes to a reputable court, and they throw it out."


Shetty has been a star in India since the early 1990s, with over 50 credits to her name. During the same year as her controversial appearance with Gere, she became an international celebrity when she won the fifth season of Celebrity Big Brother in the U.K. The season drew international attention due a racism controversy. Four British contestants were accused of making racist comments about Shetty, leading British regulators to place sanctions on broadcaster Channel 4.