clock menu more-arrow no yes

Nike cuts ties with boxer Manny Pacquiao after his horrible comments about gay people

Manny Pacquiao poses during a media tour.
Manny Pacquiao poses during a media tour.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Nike has cut its endorsement contract with Manny Pacquiao, the boxer turned Philippine Senate candidate, after his horrific comments about gay people.

"We find Manny Pacquiao's comments abhorrent," Nike said in a statement. "Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community."

The termination comes after Pacquiao, a member of the House of Representatives in the Philippines, said gay people are "worse than animals." The Associated Press reported:

"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."

After drawing criticism for the comments, Pacquiao, who's Christian, doubled down on Instagram:

I rather obey the Lord's command than obeying the desires of the flesh. Im not condemning anyone, but I'm just telling the truth of what the Bible says. The truth from the Bible is what changed me from my old ways. 1 Corinthians 6:9 "[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." God Bless everyone i love you all.

Then, finally, he issued what has been generously called an apology on Facebook:

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 bess you all and I'm praying for you.

But there are still a lot of problems with Pacquiao's remarks. For one, this isn't the first time Pacquiao has made offensive remarks about gay people — and his newest comments go so far that it's hard to take an apology seriously.

Furthermore, the substance of his comments was plain wrong — there are animals in same-sex relationships. And as for whether the Bible really says what Pacquiao claims, that largely depends on how someone interprets the holy book.

This isn't the first time Pacquiao made the news for anti-gay remarks

Manny Pacquiao. Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Pacquiao has made headlines in the past for other anti-gay remarks — although in the previous case, it seems he was widely misunderstood.

In an Examiner article for an interview with Pacquiao, conservative freelance writer Granville Ampong quoted a passage from the book of Leviticus (in the Bible) that suggests gay people should be killed: "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

The citation came from Ampong, not Pacquiao. But some media outlets, including USA Today, LA Weekly and the Village Voice, ran articles suggesting that Pacquiao had cited the Leviticus passage — and therefore suggested that gay people should be executed.

Still, Pacquiao did make some anti-gay remarks, arguing that only opposite-sex couples should be allowed to marry, according to the sports website Deadspin:

God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so are in love with each other.

It should not be of the same sex so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah of Old.

After the media attention, Pacquiao staunchly denied citing Leviticus — denying even reading the book. But he didn't back down on his opposition to same-sex marriage.

"I didn't say that, that's a lie. … I didn't know that quote from Leviticus because I haven't read the Book of Leviticus yet," he said, according to TMZ. "I'm not against gay people. … I have a relative who is also gay. We can't help it if they were born that way." He added, "What I'm critical off [sic] are actions that violate the word of God. I only gave out my opinion that same-sex marriage is against the law of God."

So Pacquiao claimed he had nothing against gay people but does oppose same-sex marriage. That's very similar to the argument he used after he compared gay people to animals.

But Pacquiao's claim that he has nothing against gay people is harder to believe as he makes headlines proving himself wrong. After all, would someone who really doesn't have a problem with gay people ever make comments that suggest they're "worse than animals" and then double down on those comments by citing the Bible?

Radio host Dan Le Batard echoed this sentiment in a segment on Tuesday:

Once you've said that, it's pretty much ingrained in your belief system. And while over time perhaps you will learn differently and apologize, immediately apologizing seems like just a blanket for your ignorance and your homophobia. There's no point in apologizing immediately. Once you've actually said gay people are worse than animals, that hatred is so deep that all you're apologizing for is saying it, not believing it.

Pacquiao cites his Christian faith to defend his beliefs, but many Christians disagree with him

Catholics LGBT Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Pacquiao has explained his anti-gay comments by falling back on his religion. In his follow-up remarks and eventual apology, he cited the Bible to justify his beliefs.

But there are millions of religious people who do not express such offensive views about gay people.

For example, in a 2014 survey of Americans by the Public Religion Research Institute, several religious groups voiced support for same-sex marriage:

PRRI same-sex marriage religion support by religion Public Religion Research Institute

The survey found various religious groups in America support marriage equality, including 84 percent of Buddhist respondents, 77 percent of Jews, and 60 percent of Catholics. Jehovah's Witnesses (12 percent), Mormons (27 percent), and white evangelical Protestants (28 percent) reported the lowest levels of support for same-sex marriage. Other groups, such as Muslims (42 percent) and Hispanic Protestants (35 percent), were more closely split on the issue but still reported majority opposition.

But Pacquiao's stance on same-sex marriage aligns closely with that of Christians from outside the US, such as himself. A 2014 global survey of Catholics by Univision found that outside the US and Spain, Catholics oppose marriage equality by a margin of roughly two to one.

Of course, the Catholic Church takes an official stance against same-sex marriage. But even when it comes to official church doctrine, there are some divisions from group to group, as this chart from the Pew Research Center shows:

Pew Research Center

Pacquiao is of course free to interpret the Bible however he wants. But many churches and individuals read the exact same book and come to very different conclusions.

Beyond simple disagreement over scripture, it also turns out that Pacquiao's remarks are scientifically inaccurate.

Animals can be and are in same-sex relationships

Penguins at a London zoo. Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Pacquiao's question — "Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?" — can be answered by a quick search on Google. And the answer is yes, there are plenty of animals that can be, and frequently are, in same-sex relationships.

A University of Oslo exhibition, covered by News Medical, focused on homosexuality in the animal kingdom. It noted that at least 1,500 species practice homosexuality, often as a way for herding animals to resolve conflicts.

"One fundamental premise in social debates has been that homosexuality is unnatural. This premise is wrong," Petter Boeckman, the academic adviser for the "Against Nature's Order?" exhibition, said. "Homosexuality is both common and highly essential in the lives of a number of species."

News Medical reported:

Homosexuality is also quite common among dolphins and killer whales. The pairing of males and females is fleeting, while between males, a pair can stay together for years. Homosexual sex between different species is not unusual either. Meetings between different dolphin species can be quite violent, but the tension is often broken by a "sex orgy". …

Animals that live a completely homosexual life can also be found. This occurs especially among birds that will pair with one partner for life, which is the case with geese and ducks. Four to five percent of the couples are homosexual.

But you don't have to take an academic's word for it — you can see the relationships yourself. This 2014 video, by Buzz60, shows a gay penguin couple taking care of an egg after an opposite-sex penguin couple abandoned it:

The staff at Wingham Wildlife Park told the BBC, "These two have so far proven to be two of the best penguin parents we have had yet."

So not only can animals take up same-sex relationships, they can even build modern families through those relationships — and do it well.


Watch: The spread of marriage equality


Correction: The article originally misidentified Pacquiao as Catholic. He's a born-again Christian.