After the international outcry, the Dalai Lama, or Tenzin Gyatso, publicly apologized for the incident which happened last February of this year at the event with M3M Foundation, a philanthropic organization of Indian real estate company M3M Group based in Dharamshala.
The public apology happened after a video went viral last week showing the Tibetan spiritual leader kissing an underage boy on the lips while also asking the child to suck his tongue. The incident took place when the young boy asked the Dalai Lama for a hug. After inviting the boy to approach him on stage, the Dalai Lama then asked the boy to kiss him on the lips, pull the boy’s chin, and then asked the kid to suck his tongue.
The apology was posted on Twitter on Monday and addressed to the boy and his family and the Dalai Lama’s “many friends across the world”. According to his post:
“His holiness wishes to apologise to the boy and his family as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused.”
Meanwhile, in the last part, the Dalai Lama seems to try to justify his action by writing:
“His holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras. He regrets the incident.”
Responding to the incident, Haq: Center for Child Rights, a Delhi-based organization that works for the human rights of children, stated on CNN:
“Some news refers to Tibetan culture about showing tongue, but this video is certainly not about any cultural expression and even if it is, such cultural expressions are not acceptable.”
This is not the first time the Buddhist organization was involved in sexual controversy. In 2018, the Tibetan spiritual leader himself admitted on Dutch television that he had been told about sexual abuses in the Buddhist communities since the early 1990s. This came after a petition has been initiated in the Netherlands by the victims of abuse themselves. Talking about the organization’s futile approach to the issue, Tricycle.org wrote:
“While international Buddhist groups are beginning to respond seriously to the problem of sexual abuse, the norm for many in positions of power remains closer to the Dalai Lama’s original response 25 years ago, which was to do very little. Indeed, some Buddhist teachers, including Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche and Lama Zopa, have defended colleagues accused of multiple counts of sexual abuse, drawing on Buddhist doctrine to do so.”
Sexual abuse in Buddhist sanctuaries happened to students in different parts of the world, including underage girls and boys. In Thailand for example, this type of abuse happens to many novices. In October 2019, the Bangkok Post wrote:
“A rapist, a paedophile, in the guise of a monk. This is not an isolated case. Type “monks rape novices” into a search engine and the ugly reality will hit you in the face. The system is sick. Seriously sick. Yet the clergy keeps turning a blind eye to these heinous crimes which are happening right under their noses to protect their image.”