PHILIPPINES: Pacquiao K.O’d for Homophobic Comments

MARY GRACES COSTA WRITES – No, Manny, gay people aren’t “worse than animals,” but you might be.

“People’s Champion” Manny Pacquiao has boxed himself into a corner with homophobic comments made to Filipino television network TV5. And the Eight Division world boxing champ’s loose lips may have cost him a lucrative Nike contract and the people’s favor.

TV5 assembled senatorial candidates for an interview, and asked Pacquiao about his views on same-sex marriage. The boxer maintained that heterosexuality was “common sense,” and that if even animals “recognize gender differences” then gay people were “worse than animals.”

Global reaction came quicker than a ten-count, and the outcry suggested a unanimous decision: Pacquiao’s comments were ignorant, shocking, and could not go unchecked.

One of the loudest voices came from Nike. Disappointed and embarrassed by Pacquiao’s bigotry, the athletic retail giant terminated its endorsement contract with him Wednesday.

“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” Nike says in a statement. “Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community.”

In the U.S., ESPN radio host Dan Le Batard denounced Pacquiao’s comments, calling the boxer’s attempt at apologizing pointless given how unequivocally awful his remarks were.

Pacquiao won’t find much support from Filipino celebrities, either. Filipino gay comedian and TV host Vice Ganda tweeted that members of the LGBT community were humans, not animals. He also tweeted the hashtag #PrayForMannyPacquiao, hoping that if online backlash doesn’t help Pac Man see the error of his ways, perhaps prayer will.

A chairman of the LGBT group Ladlad, Danton Remoto, also voiced his disappointment and embarrassment. He especially maintained that Pacquiao, as someone running for a national political position, ought to educate himself more on LGBT issues.

After drawing more and more ire from the Filipino, sports, and global LGBT community, Pacquiao took to social media sites like Instagram and Facebook to issue something resembling an apology, saying:

“I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals…. 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.”

Some die-hard Pacquiao fans still think Manny can do no wrong. They argue that the clip released by TV5 doesn’t tell the whole story. A trending video of the full interview shows Pacquiao clarifying that he does not condemn members of the LGBT community, simply that he opposes same-sex marriage.

Another group of Pacquiao diehards in Cebu burned Nike shoes in a radical show of on-going support for their boxing idol. Filipino journalist Erwin Tulfo, voiced his frustration that dissenting Filipinos weren’t more appreciative of the exposure Manny gave the Philippines.

Pacquiao defended his views on same-sex marriage by citing his faith. Christianity, and especially Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion in the Philippines. Although Manny was raised Catholic, he converted to Born Again Christianity. He claimed that this move brought him a sense of “calm” that set him on the right path in 2011 and 2012, when personal troubles began derailing his career. Along with the newfound “calm”, Pacquiao also began reading the Bible more avidly, and he cited a Bible verse in defense of his stance on same-sex marriage.

Of course, Pacquiao is free to worship and interpret the Bible however he likes, but that doesn’t make his views right. In fact, many have gone out of the way to prove him wrong. News Medical reports that as many as 1,500 animal species practice homosexuality, including penguins, geese, and dolphins. Others simply wish Pacquiao had been smart enough to keep his bigoted opinions to himself.

Pacquiao is considered a national hero in the Philippines, but every hero has a fatal flaw that leads to his demise. Homophobia might be Pacquiao’s.

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