Boxer Manny Pacquiao has given a half-hearted apology after saying people in same-sex relationships are worse than animals.
In his native Philippines, Pacquiao is a conservative lawmaker running for a seat in that overwhelmingly Catholic country's senate. And in a native language interview seen by Filipino viewers and reported online, he sent a very clear message about where he stands on same-sex marriage:
"Woman was made for man, man was made for woman. It's common sense. Will you see any animals where male is to male and female is to female? The animals are better. They know how to distinguish, male or female.
"If we approve male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animal."
While no one has publicly shamed Pacquiao for not having read "The 8 Cutest Animals that Like to Go Gay" in The Advocate last April, which detailed same-sex action in the wild, he is being slammed by blogger Perez Hilton for his statement.
"UGH. Look, if your religious beliefs prevent you from accepting same-sex marriage, that's on you. That's YOUR idea of propriety.
"But there's absolutely no call to demonize and denigrate gay people by comparing them to animals just because their love is something YOU'RE unable to accept."
"The sad thing here is that Pacquiao is world famous and a national hero as a boxer, so we can only guess he'll win his election to the Senate pretty easily, and then spread this awful attitude around within his country. Double ugh."
Likely responding to the worldwide reaction to his interview, Pacquiao offered a sort-of apology. On Facebook, he wrote he was sorry for "hurting people" and added the patronizing message: "I love you all with the love of the Lord. God Bless you all and I'm praying for you."
Pacquiao told the Associated Press, as he has told other reporters after past declarations about same-sex marriage, "I'm not against the gay people. I'm not condemning them," Pacquiao said, right before trotting out the well-worn "some of my closest friends and relatives are gay" trope. "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."
He made a similar remark last year during a 2013 interview with the National Conservative Examiner. He then claimed he was misquoted and apologized for any hurt over the "misunderstanding." Similar remarks caused an uproar in 2012, leading him to being barred from entering a Los Angeles shopping center, the cancellation of an interview with Extra, and the launch of a campaign to end his endorsement deal with Nike.
Pacquiao quoted Lady Gaga after another "misunderstanding:"
"We can't help it if they were born that way. What I'm critical of are actions that violate the word of God."
In addition to running for senate in the Philippines this year, Pacquiao faces what some expect could be his last bout, a fight against Timothy Bradley, Jr. on April 9.