Manny Pacquiao Labels Gay Couples 'Worse Than Animals,' Sparks Backlash

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2016

Boxer Manny Pacquiao speaks during a press conference with opponent Timothy Bradley announcing their upcoming 12-round world welterweight championship at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, January 19, 2016.
Pacquiao said he is looking forward to swapping the boxing ring for the political arena as the countdown began towards his farewell fight with long-time American rival Timothy Bradley on April9, 2016.  / AFP / Chris Farina        (Photo credit should read CHRIS FARINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Iconic boxer Manny Pacquiao has come under fire after claiming gay couples are “worse than animals.”

The Filipino, who is the only eight-weight world champion in the sport’s history, gave his controversial views in an interview with a Filipino television station, TV5 (via the Guardian). 

“It's common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female,” the 37-year-old stated. “If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”

Since making the claims, Pacquiao has issued the following apology on his Twitter feed:

Speaking to the Associated Press (h/t Boxing Scene), Pacquiao previously outlined his views on the topic: "I'm not against the gay people. I'm not condemning them...I have a cousin (who is) gay. I have relatives (who are) gay. I have a lot of friends (who are) gay, so I'm not condemning gays. What I said is I'm not in favour of same-sex marriage."

Pacquiao has long been one of the sport’s most popular figures and last year was involved in one of the biggest fights in boxing history, as he lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. He is set to face Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas on April 9 in a bout anticipated to be his last before retirement.

Since the remarks surfaced publicly, there has been widespread criticism of the fighter, who will run for a seat at the senate under Vice-President Jejomar Binay's United Nationalist Alliance party during upcoming May elections. The video was screened as part of this campaign.

Pacquiao is hoping to earn a spot on the senate in May.
Pacquiao is hoping to earn a spot on the senate in May.TED ALJIBE/Getty Images

Vice Ganda, a gay comedian from the Philippines, didn’t hold back in his assessment of the boxer. “Some people think they can judge people like God just because they've attended a prayer meeting and read the Bible,” said the comic on Twitter, per the Daily Telegraph. “The Senate needs experts on politics and law, not blind prophets.”

He also encouraged his 6.7 million followers to pray for the fighter:

Filipino actor Aiza Seguerra also reacted angrily to Pacquiao’s views on homosexuality with a post on Instagram. “I am so f----n’ mad I don't know what to say,” it read. “You might've done our country proud but with your statement, you just showed the whole country why we shouldn't vote for you. And yes, I think you are an ignorant, bigoted hypocrite.”

A gay church in Manila, the country’s capital, has also condemned the views of the boxer and encouraged him to spend more time with members of the homosexual community.

“Outside the boxing ring, I don't think Manny Pacquiao should be taken seriously,” pastor Kakay Pamaran told AFP (via Yahoo). “It struck me first as funny. I pity him. ... 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 is a hugely popular figure in the Philippines.
Pacquiao is a hugely popular figure in the Philippines.Jeoffrey Maitem/Getty Images

Since the quotes surfaced, the 37-year-old has posted the following on his Facebook page, in which he cited a passage from Corinthians in the Bible:

As reported by AFP (via the MailOnline), Pacquiao previously quoted passages when speaking at legislature in an attempt to prevent free condoms from being distributed to poorer members of society in the Philippines.

In the ring Pacquiao has been one of the most exciting fighters of this generation, earning plaudits, particularly from his homeland, for his vibrant, fearless boxing style. The Filipino has fought professionally on 65 occasions, winning 57, drawing two and losing six of his bouts.