Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao has made an apparent backflip in his comments likening gay couples to animals, in the days after first apologising for his comments and then being dumped by major sponsor Nike.
As the eight-time world champion joked and smiled his way through a training session in his hometown of General Santos, Pacquiao told reporters he had no intention of giving in to his critics, reports ABC Online
"What I am saying is right. I mean I am just stating the truth, what the Bible says," he said.
In an Instagram post yesterday, Pacquiao also reinforced his stance, writing gay men who engage in sexual activity should be “put to death”.
"If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable,” he wrote.
“They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads".
While the post was quickly deleted, local media outlet ABS-CBN captured and published a screen shot, with a source in General Santos confirming Pacquiao did make the post.
Earlier this week, the 37-year-old sparked a global backlash after comparing gay couples to animals
; comments which saw him lose a lucrative sponsorship contract with Nike that had lasted over eight years.
"It's common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female," he told television station TV5.
"If men mate with men and women mate with women, they are worse than animals."
Ahead of what’s to be last boxing match against American Timothy Bradley in April, Pacquiao said his comments were justified.
"What I did wrong was just comparing the people to animals, but you know what I am telling is the truth," he told reporters.
"I mean I am just telling what the Bible says. We believe God and then we should honour the word of God."
He added he was not unbothered by the backlash, nor concerned it would impact his political ambitions. "I'm happy. I'm always happy because God is with me," he said.
Pacquiao's major global sponsor Nike
cancelled its sponsorship contract with him this week, describing his comments as "abhorrent".
"Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community ... we no longer have a relationship with Manny Pacquiao," they said.
Yet Pacquiao, who was one of the world's highest paid athletes for more than a decade, continued to wear his Nike apparel at Friday's training session.
Among sporting greats to express their distaste at Pacquiao is Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, who has called his comments “bigoted”.
"I lost all respect for you," Collins tweeted.
"Bigoted people like you (& yes you are one) should never hold an office in politics."
Pacquiao’s Filipino boxing rival Floyd Mayweather has also slammed the remarks. "We should let people live their lives the way they want to live their lives. To each his own," Mayweather told TMZ Sports.
While homosexuality is not criminalised in the Philippines, gay marriage is outlawed due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church.
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