US sports apparel company Nike has severed their contract with world champion boxer and Philippine senate candidate Manny Pacquiao over his comments last week that gay couples were “worse than animals”.

“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” the sports giant said in a statement.

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  “Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community.”

Pacquiao’s comments were made when a Filipino TV network asked him and other senate candidates for their thoughts on same sex marriage.

“It’s just common sense,” he said.

“Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?

“If you have male-to-male or female-to-female [relationships], then people are worse than animals.”

Bob Arum — the chief executive of Top Rank, Pacquiao’s promotors Top Rank — called his comments “reprehensible” when he spoke to RingTV afterwards.

“I’m in favour of same-sex marriage. I’m in favour of gay rights. A lot of my friends are gays, particularly in California and Hollywood, so it’s very offensive to them and that’s what I’m most concerned about,” Arum said.

Pacquiao’s comments also received some notable criticism online, with popular gay Filipino comedian and TV host Jose Marie Viceral — who goes by the stage name Vice Ganda — taking a stance on Twitter:

 

Following backlash, Pacquiao re-affirmed his beliefs in an Instagram post, where he made reference to the Bible:

 

However, in a second Instagram post, Pacquiao was more apologetic. Alongside a video message, he commented: “I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals.”

 

This isn’t the first time Pacquiao has made anti-gay remarks. In an interview in 2012 with the National Convservative Examiner the then-professional wrestler said: “God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so (sic) are in love with each other.”

“It should not be of the same sex so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of sodom and gomorrah of old,” he said at the time.

Nike has terminated more contracts in the past four years than any other time in its history. Since 2012 the company has axed cyclist Lance Armstrong, American footballers Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, and sprinter Oscar Pistorius.

Pacquiao, who is wrapping up his term as a Congressman, is expected to run for a seat in the Philippine’s senate elections in May.

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