Fall from grace: Philippines' Pacquiao faces vote boycott for anti-gay comments

Wed Feb 17, 2016 6:12am EST
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By Manolo Serapio Jr and Karen Lema

MANILA (Reuters) - Gay and lesbian groups have called on voters in the Philippines to boycott boxing icon Manny Pacquiao as he bids for a Senate seat, after he described gays as "worse than animals".

An online petition is also underway asking global sportswear company Nike Inc to drop Pacquiao as an endorser. The petition on change.org has garnered more than 2,000 signatures so far.

Pacquiao, revered in the Philippines for winning world boxing titles in eight different weight classes during his 20-year career, suddenly fell from grace after a 30-second interview on local television about same-sex marriage, which he opposes.

"It's just common sense. Do you see any animals of the same sex mating? Animals are better off, they can distinguish between male and female," Pacquiao told TV5 on Monday.

"Now if men are mating with men and women with women, then they are worse than animals," he said.

This is not the first time Pacquiao, a sitting two-term congressman, had earned the ire of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community for his comments on same-sex marriage. He also apologized for his remarks in 2012.

Same-sex marriage is not allowed in the Philippines where more than 80 percent of the 100 million population is Roman Catholic.

The 37-year old congressman, among those favored to win a Senate seat at the May elections based on independent pollsters' surveys, apologized on Tuesday. Latest surveys showed him in 8th place for the race to win 12 vacant seats in the Senate.   Continued...

Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, who is running for Senator in the May 2016 national elections, speaks to supporters during the start of elections campaigning in Mandaluyong city, Metro Manila February 9, 2016.     REUTERS/Janis Alano