Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty has been cleared of alleged “obscenity” stemming from her appearance alongside Richard Gere at a 2007 AIDS event in which the “Pretty Woman” star embraced her and planted a kiss on her cheek onstage, in order to demonstrate that kissing someone would not transmit the AIDS virus. Kissing in public is widely considered taboo in India.
BBC News is reporting that now, 15 years later, Shetty has been fully exonerated.
At the time, radical Hindu groups were outraged by Gere’s kiss, criticizing the incident as “an insult to Indian values,” with arrest warrants issued for the actor.
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At the time, Gere apologized for what was being characterized as an “obscene act,” admitting he “felt terrible that she should carry a burden that is no fault of hers.”
In 2008, however, India’s Supreme Court threw out the case, describing it as “frivolous,” and declared Gere now free to enter India.
The charges against Shetty, however, had remained in place for more than a decade as the case slowly worked its way through the Indian court system.
According to BBC News, Shetty’s lawyers argued it was unfair for her to be labelled a “perpetrator” because she didn’t protest Gere’s kiss at the time.