Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is under fire and is being labeled a pedophile after a video of him emerged asking a boy to kiss him on the lips and suck his tongue.
The incident happened at a public gathering in February at the Tsuglagkhang temple in Dharamsala, where the exiled leader lives. He was taking questions from the audience when the boy asked for a hug.
The Dalai Lama then invited the boy up to the platform he was seated on and gestured to his cheek, after which the child kissed him before giving him a hug.
The Dalai Lama then asked the boy to kiss him on the lips and stuck out his tongue. “And suck my tongue,” the Dalai Lama said as the boy sticks out his own tongue and leans in, prompting laughter from the audience.
The video triggered backlash with viewers and social media users condemning his behavior as inappropriate and disturbing.
“Our primary concern is with the innocent boy who was the subject of this disgusting request by a revered spiritual figure,” SNAP, the national advocacy group for victims of clergy abuse said.
Following the outburst, the Dalai Lama apologized for his actions via a statement on his official website. The 87-year-old leader regretted the incident and wished 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.”
Sticking out one’s tongue was often used as a greeting in ancient Tibetan culture, but the practice is very rare now.
“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,” the statement from the Dalai Lama added.