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http://www.thewest.com.au/defaul ... amp;ContentID=27157|
India court wants Gere locked up over kiss
An Indian court has issued arrest warrants for Hollywood actor Richard Gere and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty, saying their kiss at a public function "transgressed all limits of vulgarity," media reports said.
Gere's kisses on Shetty's cheeks at an event to promote AIDS awareness in New Delhi sparked protests in some parts of India, mostly by Hindu vigilante groups, who saw it as an outrage against her modesty and an affront to Indian culture.
Judge Dinesh Gupta issued the warrants in the north-western city of Jaipur after a local lawyer, Poonam Chand Bhandar, filed a complaint charging that the public display of affection offended local sensibilities, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
Gupta earlier viewed television footage of the event, which he called "highly sexually erotic," saying the pair violated India's strict public obscenity laws.
Gere and Shetty "transgressed all limits of vulgarity and have the tendency to corrupt the society," PTI quoted the judge as saying.
The court summoned Shetty to appear on May 5, Bhandari said, adding that a warrant had also been issued for Gere's arrest.
Gere, 57, can be sent to jail for up to three months or fined or both. He is not in India now.
A Los Angeles-based spokesman for Gere said the actor had no comment on the incident or the ruling.
The spokesman, Alan Nierob, said Gere was home in New York and had resumed work promoting his latest film, The Hoax.
The Hollywood star, whose hit films include Pretty Woman and An Officer and a Gentleman, is a devout Buddhist and a vocal supporter of the Tibetan cause.
He visits India frequently to meet the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in northern India.
He is also involved with charities looking after HIV-infected people and orphans, as well as AIDS prevention groups in the country.
Groups of men had burned and kicked straw effigies of Gere and Shetty in sporadic protests across the country after newspapers published pictures of the kissing on their front pages and television channels aired footage of the event.
Shetty, who is currently on a religious pilgrimage in southern India, was upset by the news, her spokesman, Dale Bhagwagar, said.
"She does hurt, she does feel low," Bhagwagar told The Associated Press.
"She feels she is being constantly targeted, but anyone who knows her well knows she can't be put down."
"Shilpa wishes that people would focus on the real issue, AIDS awareness, and not three pecks on her cheek," he said, adding that she had not yet received any court summons.
Shetty had said the kiss may have gone a "little overboard" but it was not obscene and the protests made India look regressive.
She said Gere was only re-enacting his moves from the film Shall We Dance? to entertain the audience at the AIDS event and communicate in a Bollywood style as he did not speak Hindi.
Many commentators subsequently expressed their unhappiness at what they said were fringe groups making a mountain out of a harmless peck on the cheek.
Shetty, already well known in India, became an international star after her appearance on the British reality show Celebrity Big Brother - another controversial public appearance.
A fellow contestant, Jade Goody, sparked international headlines by making allegedly racist comments to Shetty.
Mobs took to the streets of India to denounce Goody, and Shetty went on to win the competition.