Facing a sharp backlash over his remarks in a recent TV interview, boxer and politician Manny Pacquiao has apologized for saying that people who are in gay relationships are "worse than animals."
Here's the famous boxer's 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. God Bless you all and I'm praying for you."
Outrage quickly grew in reaction to Pacquiao's comments in an interview that aired Monday night on the Philippines' TV5 network, in which he said it was a matter of "common sense" that animals don't have male-to-male or female-to-female relations. Carrying his idea a step further, Pacquiao said that if people engage in same-sex relations, then people "are worse than animals."
After the short video was posted on the TV5 Facebook page, some of the comments were in support of Pacquiao, who enjoys wealth and wide popularity and has often discussed his religious devotion.
Other responses were withering.
"This numbskull should know that there are gay animals," writer Danton Remoto said, in a response quoted by TV5 . "He should have attended more than four sessions in Congress to know that."
Shortly after the angry reaction began, Pacquiao refused to apologize.
"I'm not condemning anyone, but I'm just telling the truth of what the Bible says," he wrote on Facebook early Tuesday, local time. He cited 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."
Hours later, Pacquiao, a member of the House of Representatives who's currently campaigning to win a Senate seat, released a video on Facebook and Twitter along with his apology.
Many of the fierce reactions to the comments came via Twitter and other social media. Some, like comedian Vice Ganda — whose actual name is Jose Marie Vicera — called Pacquiao a hypocrite, noting, as the Daily Inquirer reports, that the boxer "was previously linked to other women such as Krista Ranillo and Kat Ordonez while being married to his wife Jinkee."
"What we need in the Senate are those who are experienced in politics, law, and economics — not false prophets," Vice Ganda said in a tweet translated by the Daily Inquirer.
The newspaper notes that Pacquiao is one of the most popular candidates currently running for a Senate seat.
In response to Pacquiao's apology, Vice Ganda said, in a remark that was retweeted thousands of times, "Manny said sorry. Apology accepted. But i will still not vote for him. Manny for boxing not for Senate. #Respect."