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.
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:
The LGBT is a group of people. We are humans. But not animals. Though we’re no saints we will pray for Manny Pacquiao.
— jose marie viceral (@vicegandako) February 16, 2016
Following backlash, Pacquiao re-affirmed his beliefs in an Instagram post, where he made reference to the Bible:
I rather obey the Lord’s command than obeying the desires of the flesh. Im not condemning anyone, but I’m just telling the truth of what the Bible says. The truth from the Bible is what changed me from my old ways. 1 Corinthians 6:9 “ Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.” God Bless everyone i love you all. @johnnybantilan @david.sisson @jinkeepacquiao
A photo posted by Manny Pacquiao (@mannypacquiao) on
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.”
I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt. I still stand on my belief that I’m against same sex marriage because of what the Bible says, but I’m not condemning LGBT. I love you all with the love of the Lord. God Bless you all and I’m praying for you.
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.