Filipino world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao has denied quoting a violent anti-gay passage of the Bible and defended his opposition to gay marriage after a backlash.
National Conservative Examiner published an article last weekend in which it appeared Pacquiao, who is also a congressman in the Philippines, quoted a Bible passage from Leviticus that says gay people ‘must be put to death’.
In an interview with Associated Press published on the International Day Against Homophobia (today, 17 May), Pacquiao clarified his position. ‘I’m not against the gay people,’ he said. ‘I’m not condemning them... I have a cousin (who is) gay. I have relatives (who are) gay. I have a lot of friends (who are) gay, so I’m not condemning gays. What I said is I’m not in favor of same-sex marriage. That’s the one thing I said to the guy.’
The National Conservative Examiner journalist who interviewed Pacquiao later clarified that he had added the Levitcus quote himself. However the verse is still quoted on an ambiguous blog post on Pacquiao’s official website.
Pacquiao’s comments in the interview were met with an angry backash. He was was dropped from appearing on LA TV show Extra on Tuesday, and banned from the shopping mall where it’s filmed, The Grove. An online petition urging Nike to stop sponsoring him attracted nearly 5,000 signatures before it was stopped on Wednesday morning.
Fellow congressman in the Philippines’ House of Representatives Tony Casino, who is a champion of LGBT rights said: ‘much as I respect Pacquiao’s views on the same sex marriage so should he respect the right of LGBTs to live’.