In an effort to kiss and make up to those he offended with his controversial smooch in India, Richard Gere issued a formal statement on Friday.
“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,” the star of The Hoax, 57, said through the Heroes Project, an organization Gere co-founded to combat AIDS in India, the Associated Press reports.
“If that has happened, of course it is easy for me to offer a sincere apology,” he said.
Gere’s embrace and kiss of actress Shilpa Shetty sparked several noisy demonstrations by hard-line Hindu groups and a flurry of legal complaints, which ended with a judge in Jaipur issuing an arrest warrant for the two stars for violating obscenity laws.
The hug, which took place before about 4,000 truckers, was a failed attempt to parody a scene in Gere’s film Shall We Dance and “a naive misread of Indian customs,” he said.
Friday’s statement contrasts with Gere’s remarks made Thursday on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
“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,” he told Stewart.
Under Indian law, a person convicted of public obscenity could potentially be sentenced to three months in prison, a fine, or both.
• With reporting by PETE NORMAN