Dalai Lama issues apology for ‘sexist’ remarks

Says comments that a 'female successor must be attractive' were taken out of context


By Maha Ali

The Dalai Lama has issued an apology and explanation for seemingly sexist remarks he made in regards to a possible female successor in an interview with BBC News last week. The interviewer Rajini Vaidyanathan brought up some problematic comments he made to her colleague, reading out: “That females must be attractive, otherwise it’s not much use.” She proceeded to ask him, “Can you see why that comment upsets a lot of women?”

The Dalai Lama, in a light-hearted manner did not say much to defend his comment in that instance, by simply stating that “people prefer to not see a dead face.” He was prompted by the interviewer to consider that what’s more important is on the “inside” to which he agreed but also reiterated that outward appearance is also important.

Since this interview, Twitter users have expressed mostly disappointment towards the Dalai Lama’s lack of concern for his seemingly objectifying comments.

However, on Tuesday, the Dalai Lama issued an apology/explanation of his comments on his website.

This statement read,”Firstly, in responding to a question about whether his own reincarnation could be a woman, and suggesting that if she were she should be attractive, His Holiness genuinely meant no offence. He is deeply sorry that people have been hurt by what he said and offers his sincere apologies.”

It further gave details of instances of how in the past he has supported women and has been an advocate for gender equality. Furthermore, there is an insinuation that he made the original comments in the context of the interviewer who is a Paris editor of Vogue magazine and simply gave importance to outward appearances for that reason. It explained, “He was at least partially responding to the unfamiliar ambiance of working with a team whose prime focus was the world of high fashion. ”

The article has had a mixed response on Twitter.