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Manny Pacquiao’s meeting with Philippine LGBT activists sparks debate within the LGBT community

Manny Pacquiao’s meeting with Philippine LGBT activists sparks debate within the LGBT community

Manny Pacquiao said gay people are worse than animals

A closed-door meeting organized by boxer-congressman Manny Pacquiao, who attracted international condemnation for saying that same-sex couples are ‘worse than animals’, to meet with LGBT activists in his home country of the Philippines has drawn debate and controversy.

According to a source who spoke to Gay Star News, nine LGBT rights activists were flown on an all-expenses paid trip by the multi-millionaire world champion boxer and congressman for Sarangani to General Santos City for a meeting on Tuesday (March 8).

Several prominent LGBT rights activists said that they have declined to attend given the ‘suspicious timing’ of the meeting.

Pacquiao, who is running for a senatorial seat in May, saw a significant drop in poll ratings released last week after his controversial comments and having his endorsement partnership terminated by Nike.

Jonas Bagas, a LGBT rights advocate, posted a note which was widely shared questioning the politician’s intention for the meeting.

‘What is the point of going there? To hear his side, a side that has been repeated by him and his peers-in-faith to enable the exclusion of LGBTs, the same explanation that contributes to abuse and violence against LGBTs? To have the chance to educate Manny Pacquiao on SOGIE, under circumstances where he wants to listen not because he wants to learn, but because it is expedient to pretend doing so?’ He said.

He told Gay Star News he’s personally disappointed by the decision of other LGBT activists to attend the meeting.

‘It is politically naive to think that the meeting was based on goodwill. A meeting after the election made more sense. But in the middle of the campaign period, where imagery and messaging matter, you don’t go out of your way to accommodate a politician who has the gall to compare LGBTs to animals, who oppose reproductive health and equal rights, and who has demonstrated a record level low in legislative incompetence, just for a promise that he’ll file a bill that he is ideologically incompatible with.’

Shortly after making a sort-of apology, Pacquiao posted, then deleted, a Bible verse on Instagram that called for gays ‘to be put to death.’

Calling the meeting a ‘veiled attempt to woo the sentiments of the LGBT community’ following his recent political nosedive based on the surveys, Dindi Tan, a transgender advocate, said she had initially accepted Pacquiao’s invitation but later decided against going.

In her Facebook post, she further appealed to the 37-year-old boxing super-star, a former Catholic turned evangelical Christian, to abandon his political career and ‘just concentrate on (his) next boxing fight’.

Ging Cristobal, a LGBT rights advocate, confirmed with GSN that she attended the meeting but did not respond in time when asked about what transpired at the meeting.

She said in a Facebook post on Wednesday, ‘All of us who went to the dialogue hated Pacquiao’s irresponsible remark referring to LGBTI people as “worse than animals” and all of us want to give a piece of our mind and tell him the negative impact of his stupid remark to the lives of LGBTI people and their loved ones.’

‘We always assume that people like him should know better but the sad reality is that they don’t—like some our parents, like some of your family members, like some teachers, like some of those kind-hearted people who only wish to “save our supposed souls already being burned while we are still on earth”‘.

According to Cristobal’s Facebook post, some of the activists who attended the meeting include Xylem Andrew Corpuz II and Val Nyx Cuaresma of LGBT Pinoy; Faustino L. III Sabarez, chairperson of the grassroots group Old Balara Pride Council in Quezon City; and Popoy Señeres, officer of Association of Transgender Men of the Philippines (ATMP) who wanted Pacquiao to understand how his statement affected them, and transgender women and their families, by exposing them to higher risk of abuse, discrimination and violence.

In 2012, Pacquiao was embroiled in a similar but much less high-profile controversy when he expressed his disagreement with US President Barack Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage in an interview.