Eight-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao apologised on Tuesday for describing homosexuals as “worse than animals” after his remarks sparked a firestorm of criticism in his native Philippines.
Nearing the end of a glorious decades-long boxing career, the 37-year-old is reinventing himself as a conservative Bible-bearing politician before the country’s May elections, when he is running for a senate seat.
“I’m sorry for comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I’ve hurt,” Pacquiao said in a video post on Instagram, his arms crossed.
Pacquiao said he was not condemning homosexuals but was standing by his conservative Christian faith.
“I love you all with the love of the Lord. I am praying for you.”
Pacquiao told television station TV5 earlier this week: “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.”
Gay marriage is outlawed in the Philippines due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church and 80 percent of the country’s 100 million people subscribe to the faith.