Manny Pacquiao on Sunday compared marriage rights to same-sex couples to “sex between animals.”
“Same-sex marriage is more disgusting than (sex) between animals,” said the Philippine boxer during an interview with the website Bilang Pilipino.
Pacquiao, who is a member of the United Nationalist Alliance, is running for a seat in the Philippines Senate in national elections that are scheduled to take place on May 9. He has represented the province of Sarangani in the Philippines House of Representatives since 2010.
Jonas Bagas of TFL Sexuality, a Philippine advocacy group, blasted Pacquiao over his comments.
“Manny Pacquiao’s reprehensible attitude towards LGBTs and marriage equality shows an appalling lack of understanding of human dignity,” Bagas told the Washington Blade. “He’s not just a popular sports icon, he is also a legislator and a candidate for higher office in the Philippines.”
“His willingness to strip LGBTs of humanity shows he’s not fit for public service,” he added.
Dindi Tan, a member of the Quezon City Pride Council board of directors, posted a lengthy response to Pacquiao’s comments onto her Facebook page. The post contained the headline “Day of Infamy for Manny Pacquiao.”
“Today will go down in history as that day when you dropped the bomb against your fellow Filipinos — the Philippine LGBT community,” wrote Tan.
Boxer previously said he is ‘not against’ gay people
Pacquiao in 2012 criticized President Obama’s support of marriage rights for same-sex couples during an interview with the Examiner.
The article appeared to show him using a passage from the Book of Leviticus that calls for the death of men who engage in same-sex sexual relations. The Grove, a popular Los Angeles shopping mall, banned Pacquiao after the website published the interview.
Pacquiao reaffirmed his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples to the Associated Press, but he stressed he is “not against the gay people.”
The boxer noted to the Associated Press that his cousin and other relatives are gay. The Examiner later clarified that Pacquiao did not refer to Leviticus during its interview with him.
Bagas told the Blade in response to Pacquiao’s latest comments that the boxer should no longer receive endorsements from Nike and other brands.
The Blade has reached out to Pacquiao and Nike for comment.
Activist: Pacquiao is a ‘bigot’
The Philippines national elections will take place roughly six months after a court found a U.S. Marine guilty of killing Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman, in an Olongapo City motel room in 2014.
Laude’s death sparked widespread outrage among Philippine advocates who continue to urge the country’s lawmakers to approve an LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination measure that has languished for more than a decade. The case also highlighted opposition to the U.S. military presence in the Philippines.
“Its time for the ‘pink vote’ to judge your rightful place in history,” wrote Tan on her Facebook page. “Let us unite to campaign against this bigot. Mr. Manny Pacquiao you may win the Senate but we will make sure that you will also go down in history as one of the most-celebrated cowards of our time.”
Pacquiao on Tuesday apologized for his comments in a video he posted to his Twitter page.
I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I've hurt. God Bless! pic.twitter.com/bqjRcWqp8R
— Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao) February 16, 2016