Sports brand Nike ended its sponsorship deal with Manny Pacquiao on Wednesday after the Filipino boxer said people who are attracted to the same sex are "worse than animals."
Pacquiao, a member of the Philippines House of Representatives who is currently running for a Senate seat, made the controversial comments in a local television interview released Monday.
"It's common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex?" he said. "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."
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the conservative Christian initially defended the comments: "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."
However, just seven hours later, the former world champion made a follow-up post in which he apologized for hurting the LGBT community.
"I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals," he wrote. "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."
On Wednesday, Pacquiao sponsor Nike announced it "no longer [has] a relationship" with the boxer.
"We find Manny Pacquiao's comments abhorrent," a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in an emailed 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."
Forbes lists Nestlé and Foot Locker as the boxer's other major sponsors. Foot Locker representatives did not return a request for comment from BuzzFeed News, while a Nestlé spokesperson said the company is not a current sponsor, having sponsored him briefly in 2015.
Pacquiao's initial comments drew support from many in the Catholic-dominated country, but LGBT political party Ladlad condemned the remarks.
"To say that animals are better because males of the species sniff and have sex only with females of the species is to be ignorant of the fact that homosexuality is also found in all forms of creation — from plants to animals, and yes, even to people," party chairman Danton Remoto said in a statement. "This fact just goes to show that homosexuality is part of nature, and not some repulsive idea that the fundamentalist mind of Pacquiao finds perverse."
This isn't the first time Pacquiao has drawn the ire of the LGBT community by making anti-gay comments.
In 2012, he gave an interview with the National Conservative Examiner in which he spoke out against same-sex marriage. The interview included a reference to a biblical chapter about gays being put to death, but Pacquiao later denied he specifically quoted the verse.
An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect spelling of Pacquiao.
David Mack is a reporter and weekend editor for BuzzFeed News in New York.
Contact David Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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