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Bollywood's Shilpa Shetty cleared of obscenity over Richard Gere kiss

Image source, AFP

An Indian court has finally cleared Shilpa Shetty of obscenity charges 15 years after the Bollywood star was kissed on stage by actor Richard Gere.

Footage from 2007 showed the Hollywood star kissing Ms Shetty’s cheek at an Aids awareness event in Delhi.

The charges have only now been ruled “groundless”, with the court saying she was the victim of an unwanted advance.

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At the time the kiss triggered protests by radical Hindu groups who considered it to be an insult to Indian values.

Kissing in public is considered by some in India to be taboo.

Mr Gere hugged and kissed Ms Shetty on a public stage at a charity event in Delhi nearly 15 years ago, a display he later apologised for.

The actor said he had been trying to show that kissing was a safe act that could not lead to the transmission of HIV.

An arrest warrant issued for Mr Gere over the incident was thrown out by India’s Supreme Court soon after. It dismissed the claims against the celebrity as being filed for “cheap publicity”.

But it was only last week that the charges against Ms Shetty for the same incident were dismissed in Mumbai, after the case had languished in India’s court system.

The Bollywood star’s legal team argued it was unfair for Ms Shetty to be considered a “perpetrator” for not protesting enough against the kiss at the time.

Shilpa Shetty shot into the limelight outside India, also in 2007, after appearing in the UK reality television show Celebrity Big Brother, where she was the victim of racist bullying and insults. She went on to win the contest.

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