World

Manny Pacquiao makes wildly insensitive comments about gay people

Eight-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has sparked a firestorm of criticism in the Philippines after describing gay couples as “worse than animals”. Nearing the end of a glorious decades-long boxing career, the 37-year-old is reinventing himself as a conservative Bible-bearing politician ahead of the country’s May elections, when he is running for a senate […]

news.com.au/BBC

February 17, 2016 11:09 am

Eight-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has sparked a firestorm of criticism in the Philippines after describing gay couples as “worse than animals”.

Eight time boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao. Telegraph UK.
Eight time boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao. Telegraph UK.

Nearing the end of a glorious decades-long boxing career, the 37-year-old is reinventing himself as a conservative Bible-bearing politician ahead of the country’s May elections, when he is running for a senate seat.

“It’s common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female,” Pacquiao told local broadcaster TV5 in an interview aired earlier this week.

“If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”

Gay marriage is outlawed in the Philippines due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church and 80 per cent of the country’s 100 million people subscribe to the faith.

Gay marriages are officiated at small churches but these unions are not recognised by the church or the state.

The country’s most popular gay comedian, Vice Ganda, posted #PrayForMannyPacquiao to his 6.7 million followers on Twitter as he tore at the boxer.

“Some people think they can judge people like God just because they’ve attended a prayer meeting and read the bible,” he said.

“The Senate needs experts on politics and law, not blind prophets,” Vice Ganda added.

Singer Aiza Seguerra, who recently married her actress girlfriend, called on voters to boycott Pacquiao, who is also preparing for his last boxing fight in April, calling him an “ignorant, bigoted hypocrite”.

“You might have done our country proud but with your statement, you just showed the whole country why we shouldn’t vote for you,” Seguerra said in a post on Instagram.

Pacquiao gave the television interview as part of his campaign for one of 12 seats in the nationally-elected senate. The most recent surveys suggest he would win.

Pacquiao remains hugely popular in his home country. Photo: BBC.
Pacquiao remains hugely popular in his home country. Photo: BBC.

He currently represents the province of Sarangani in the House of Representatives and is notorious for his chronic absences, favouring boxing training over legislation.

In one of the rare times he spoke at the legislature, Pacquiao quoted heavily from the Bible as he vigorously sought to stop a proposed law, since passed, granting free condoms to the poor.

He credits his renewed Christian faith for transforming him from a free-spending womaniser and gambler into a devoted family man who can recite Bible verses.

“Outside the boxing ring, I don’t think Manny Pacquiao should be taken seriously. It struck me first as funny. I pity him,” Kakay Pamaran, a pastor at one of Manila gay churches, told AFP.

“I would advise him to talk to more LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual and transgender) persons, meet them and not just reduce his concept of LGBT to the sexual act.”

Pacquiao apologises for gay slur

Pacquiao writing on his Facebook Page later apologised in the face of severe criticism for saying homosexuals were “worse than animals”.

Manny said he remained against gay marriage but was “not condemning LGBT”. “God Bless you all and I’m praying for you,” he added.

Mr Pacquiao’s original remark, made during a TV interview, drew ire from gay Filipino celebrities and a rights group and sparked heated discussion.

Initially he appeared unrepentant, writing in a post in Instagram that he was “just telling the truth of what the Bible says”.

Filipino comedian Vice Ganda and singer Aiza Seguerra, who are openly gay, have criticised Mr Pacquiao for his comments, calling him a “hypocrite” and a “false prophet”.

Local gay rights organisation and political group Ladlad condemned his remarks and issued a call to voters to boycott Mr Pacquiao.

It said in a statement, reported in local media, that his view “betrays a shallow understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity” and that failure to understand gay rights issues would leave him in the dark ages “when the cavemen ruled and the numbskulls roamed the Earth”.

On Tuesday, Mr Pacquiao, who has won world titles in eight different weight divisions, had posted a picture of himself with his wife on Instagram in an apparent response to the controversy.

Manny's Instagram post.
Manny’s Instagram post.

He said: “I rather obey the Lord’s command than obeying the desires of the flesh. I’m not condemning anyone, but I’m just telling the truth of what the Bible says.”

The furore has split the online world, where many Christian followers have shown support for Mr Pacquiao, while others have condemned him for his views.

Pacquiao remains hugely popular in the Philippines, and has spoken frequently about his renewed Christian faith. He represents his wife’s home province of Sarangani in the lower house.

Many Filipinos hold conservative views on gay rights because much of the population is Catholic, but the country has several prominent gay personalities and the capital, Manila, also has a vibrant gay scene.

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