UPDATE at 1:25 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016: Nike has dropped Pacquiao. See the details at the bottom.
Boxer and former world champion Manny Pacquiao has already been banned from the Grove shopping center for his anti-gay comments.
Now he's facing a huge backlash after being captured on video saying that gay people are “worse than animals.”
The comment that apparently got him banned from the Grove in 2012, that gay men “must be put to death,” was a misquote, the writer who published the remarks said soon afterward. “I only gave out my opinion that same-sex marriage is against the law of God,” Pacquiao said that year.
This time, however, his feelings about the LGBT community can't be blamed on anyone else, it seems. In a recent interview with a TV news operation in the Philippines, Pacquiao said, in Tagalog, that his gay bashing is a matter of “common sense.”
“Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female,” he said. “The animals are better. They know how to distinguish male from female. If we approve male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animals.”
He later apologized.
“I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals,” he said. “Please forgive me for those I've hurt.”
The thing is, Pacquiao lives and trains in Los Angeles, at least part-time. He's also running for a senate seat in his native country, the Philippines.
Los Angeles, as you well know, is one of the nation's most liberal cities and a capital of LGBT culture. The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board said last year that LGBT tourism in L.A. is responsible for 3.2 million visitors a year.
The board, in fact, said that tourism was starting to return to Los Angeles after a backlash over Proposition 8, the Mormon-backed initiative that temporarily banned same-sex marriage in the Golden State.
Do we really need another reason for tourists to avoid L.A.? Tourism is one of the region's top job generators.
Dave Garcia, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s director of policy and community building, says companies that endorse Pacquiao, at least, will face increased scrutiny from here on out.
“Manny Pacquiao's comments are uneducated, abhorrent and insulting not only to the LGBT community but also to humanity,” he said. “It is outrageous to compare the love and attraction of same-sex couples to animals. Pacquiao's religious reasoning for such ignorance reminds us all that in a fair and equal society we need both the freedom of — and the freedom from — religion. While we appreciate Manny's apology, only time will tell if he is capable of changing his homophobic views. In the meantime, we hope his many endorsement deals by multinational corporations will be under intense scrutiny. His current homophobic views have no place on the world stage.”
Marquita Thomas, executive director of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said we should continue to welcome Pacquiao while using his twisted sentiments as a teachable moment.
“The LGBT community has always been welcoming,” she told us, “and we always look for an opportunity to educate those who find themselves with thoughts such as his.”
No pitchforks here.
“We would always take time to sit down with him and discuss his views,” she said, “and hope he would come out more enlightened and accepting.”
To forgive is divine.
UPDATE at 1:25 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016: Nike has canceled its sponsorship deal with Pacquiao. Here's a statement the company sent to us this afternoon:
We find Manny Pacquiao's comments 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.