As Manny Pacquiao‘s boxing career winds down (he’s rumored to be retiring after his April 9 bout with Timothy Bradley), he’s shifting more of his focus to a political career in his home country of the Philippines, where he’s been a Congressman since 2010. He’s now running for the higher office of Senate, and while campaigning, he made some truly distasteful comments about LGBT individuals.
Asked about his views on gay marriage on a political TV program, Pacquiao responded:
“It’s just common sense,” Pacquiao said in the remarks posted online by the TV5 network. “Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?”
Animals, he said, were better because they recognize gender differences, and “if you have male-to-male or female-to-female (relationships), then people are worse than animals.”
It’s a horrific and misguided thing to say, not least of which because homosexuality has actually been observed in multiple animal species, both in copulation and companionship. Of course, no one who would make such an ignorant comment in the first place would have ever bothered to research it anyway, but it still bears mentioning that he was dead wrong.
Of course, even though the Philippines tends to be a strongly religious country, Pacquiao was swiftly denounced by all sides, including some who quoted Pope Francis’ tolerant views on homosexuality. Manny, chastened and attempting to save face, posted an apology to his Facebook page.
To an extent, it doesn’t matter what Pacquiao says — he’s still possibly the most revered athlete in the history of the Philippines, the government of which has been nicknamed a “showbiztocracy” for the amount of celebrities to win office on the strength of their name recognition and not much more. The 37-year-old’s political star will almost certainly continue to rise, and it would not be a terrible shock to see him as the President of the Philippines somewhere down the line.