A woman could only be Dalai Lama if she is "attractive," the Tibetan Buddhist leader said.

  • The Dalai Lama has defended himself against accusations of sexism claiming that the comments he made were a joke that was misinterpreted.
  • He said in a recent interview with the BBC that there can only be a female Dalai Lama if she is "attractive".
  • "It sometimes happens that off the cuff remarks, which might be amusing in one cultural context, lose their humor in translation when brought into another," a statement on his behalf said.
  • Visit Business Insider for more stories.


The Dalai Lama has defended himself against accusations of sexism after saying that he could only be replaced by a woman if she was "attractive" - a comment he says was a joke taken out of context.

"If [a] female Dalai Lama comes, then she should be more attractive," the 83-year-old, who is the leader of Tibetan Buddhism, said in an interview with the BBC.

He added that a female Dalai Lama would be "not much use" if she is not good-looking.

In a 771-word-long statement by his office, the Nobel Peace Prize winner said that he is "deeply sorry that people have been hurt."

He said the line was meant to be amusing but had been taken out of context.

Read more: The Dalai Lama says we can use the same formula for inner peace and world peace

"It sometimes happens that off the cuff remarks, which might be amusing in one cultural context, lose their humour in translation when brought into another," the statement said.

The statement, issued on his behalf, went on to say that he "emphasizes the need for people to connect with each other on a deeper human level, rather than getting caught up in preconceptions based on superficial appearances."

"His Holiness, a monk now in his mid-eighties, has a keen sense of the contradictions between the materialistic, globalised world he encounters on his travels and the complex, more esoteric ideas about reincarnation that are at the heart of Tibetan Buddhist tradition," it continued.

His recent comments to the BBC are not an isolated incident. In another interview with the broadcaster in 2015, the Dalai Lama made almost identical comments.

"If a female Dalai Lama comes, then that female must be attractive," he said.

Read more: The Dalai Lama reveals the most interesting man he's ever met

The Dalai Lama also attempted to clarify comments he made about the migration crisis facing Europe, in which he said that Europe may eventually become a "Muslim country."

Asked about Europe welcoming refugees he said: "Limited number... OK. But whole Europe eventually become Muslim country? Impossible. Or African country? Also impossible."

He added that Europe should welcome refugees, but with the ultimate goal of sending them back to their homelands.

"His Holiness's views about the current refugee and migration crisis may have been misinterpreted," the statement issued said.

"He certainly appreciates that many of those who leave their countries may not wish or be able to return, and that Tibetans, who cherish the idea of returning home, would find their country irrevocably altered."


Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: