Renowned US sports equipment and attire company Nike has severed all ties to Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday following his description of gay couples as “worse than animals“. Nike disapproved of the boxer’s remarks and described it as “abhorrent.”
Earlier this week, Manny Paquiao told TV5 in an interview that even animals do not mate with the same-sex and any human being that does that is worse than animals.
“I love you all with the love of the Lord. I am praying for you,” Pacquiao told television station TV5.
“It’s common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same-sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female.”
“If men mate with men and women mate with women, they are worse than animals.”
This statement from Manny Pacquiao erupted into an uproar in the United States where same-sex marriage is embedded in the law and is legal according to a Supreme Court ruling.
A statement from Nike said the company had sacked the Filipino boxer after his hate speech about gay couples which started a fierce controversy earlier this week.
“We find Manny Pacquiao’s comments abhorrent,” a Nike statement said.
“Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community… we no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao.”
This bold move from Nike was happily welcomed by gay rights campaigners in the Philippines.
“Philippine LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and allied groups plus Nike’s enlightened stand has struck down the fundamentalist posturing of a bigot who wants to be a senator of the land,” said Danton Remoto, head of a gay rights political party known as Ang Ladlad (the Unfurled).
NBA’s Jason Collins who is the first openly gay athlete dismissed Pacquiao as ‘bigoted’.
“I lost all respect for you,” Collins wrote on Twitter. “Bigoted people like you (& yes you are one) should never hold an office in politics.” Pacquiao is aspiring for a seat in his country’s Senate.
US singer Aiza Seguerra, who recently tied the knots with her actress-girlfriend in the US, made a clarion call to all Filipino voters to withdraw support from Pacquiao, calling him an “ignorant, bigoted hypocrite“.
Floyd Mayweather, a long time rival of Manny Pacquiao’s also added his opinion to the series of comments.
“We should let people live their lives the way they want to live their lives. To each his own,” TMZ Sports quoted Mayweather.
37-year-old Manny Pacquiao, had since rendered an apology through a video soon after the controversy erupted.
“I’m sorry for comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt,” Pacquiao said in a video he posted on Instagram.
In his own defense, Manny Pacquiao said he was not particularly condemning homosexuals but was only trying to conserve his Christian faith as a devout Christian.
Homosexuality is not a crime in the Philippines, but gay marriage is. This is due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church that encompass up to 80% of the country’s 100 million people.