BOXING champion, congressman and senatorial candidate Manny Pacquiao apologized Tuesday after drawing down a firestorm of criticism for describing gay couples as “worse than animals” in a television interview.
“It’s common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female,” Pacquiao told TV5 in an interview aired earlier this week.
“If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”
Lawmakers and members of the gay community immediately condemned the remarks.
“We are not animals, we are people,” said Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez, who said human beings should not be compared to animals based on their gender preferences.
Gabriela party-list Rep. Luz Ilagan said there was no “common sense” in Pacquiao’s statements about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
“LGBTs are people, citizens and deserve the same rights as everyone else. Pacquiao should realize that if he wants to become senator of all Filipinos,” Ilagan said.
Rep. Emmi de Jesus, also from Gabriela, said hate crimes against LGBTs are fanned by remarks like Pacquiao’s.
Ladlad, the national organization of LGBTs, said Pacquiao betrayed “a shallow understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity” and “even the very basics of science.”
“To say that animals are better because males of the species sniff and have sex only with females of the species is to be ignorant of the fact that homosexuality is also found in all forms of creation—from plants to animals, and yes, even to people,” said the group’s chairman, Danton Remoto.
“This fact just goes to show that homosexuality is part of nature, and not some repulsive idea that the fundamentalist mind of Pacquiao finds perverse.”
Ladlad also took Paquiao to task for attending only four sessions of Congress last year, where he represents the province of Sarangani, and for missing the committee deliberations on the long-delayed Anti-Discrimination Bill.
“If he did, he would have learned of the contributions that the LGBTs have done for the country, as well as the discrimination and oppression we endure, sometimes from our very own congressmen who rarely come to work, yet get the full benefits not due to them,” Remoto said.
Singer Aiza Seguerra, who recently married her actress-girlfriend, called on voters to boycott Pacquiao, who is also preparing for his last boxing fight in April, calling him an “ignorant, bigoted hypocrite.”
“You might have done our country proud but with your statement, you just showed the whole country why we shouldn’t vote for you,” Seguerra said in a post on Instagram.
“Outside the boxing ring, I don’t think Manny Pacquiao should be taken seriously. It struck me first as funny. I pity him,” said Kakay Pamaran, a pastor at a gay church.
“I would advise him to talk to more LGBT persons, meet them and not just reduce his concept of LGBT to the sexual act.”
Gay comedian Vice Ganda tore into Pacquiao on his Twitter account.
“Some people think they can judge people like God just because they’ve attended a prayer meeting and read the Bible,” he said. “The Senate needs experts on politics and law, not blind prophets.”
Amid the withering criticism, Pacquiao issued a brief apology.
“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. Godbless you all and I’m praying for you,” he said.
Pacquiao is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is running for president.
Gay marriage is outlawed in the Philippines due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church.
Gay marriages are officiated at small churches but these unions are not recognized by the church or the state. Maricel V. Cruz, AFP
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