MANILA, Philippines – On the eve of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, world boxing champion and Sarangani Rep Manny Pacquiao had to deal with tough punches from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and advocates after he assailed gay marriage.
An online petition initiated by the group Gay Marriage USA demanding sportswear supplier Nike to end its sponsorship of Pacquiao is circulating in social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.
“Nike is a multi-billion dollar industry and LGBT people contribute billions to this company. It is completely unacceptable that such a high-profile company should be sponsoring a boxer who is encouraging violence towards LGBT people. Tell Nike to drop its sponsorship!” the petition demanded.
Pacquiao, Forbes’ 4th most influentional sports star in the world, has been a Nike endorser since 2006.
More than 126,000 users follow and 106,000 talk about the Facebook page of Gay Marriage USA which is campaigning for marriage equality in the US.
‘They must be put to death’
The world champion earlier criticized US President Barack Obama’s position on same-sex marriages in an exclusive interview with the Examiner.com.
In opposing gay union, Pacquiao reportedly quoted Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
In a later interview, the boxing champ later denied that he quoted Leviticus but maintained that gay marriage is sin.
Writer Granville Ampong later said what Pacquiao said was, “God’s words first…obey God’s law first before considering the laws of man.” It was Ampong who quoted the Leviticus verse in his article.
Pacquiao’s anti-gay marriage statements instantly enraged the online LGBT community and its advocates, who accused the pound-for-pound king of homophobia, the irrational fear of any member of the LGBT sector.
Jigs Mayuga, a celebrity make-up artist in the Philippines, posted on Twitter, “Am so angry. This statement from Pacquiao will resonate to his million fans who will think it’s cool that ‘gay men should be put to death.”
A self-proclaimed reformed Christian, Pacquiao also reportedly said, “God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so are in love with each other” and that marriage “should not be of the same sex so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah of Old.”
Twitter user Ralph Tomas said, “Why is everyone angry/hating Pacquiao? True that you cannot please everybody. He is just being true to his faith and belief [in] the Bible.”
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep Luzviminda Ilagan advised Pacquiao: “As a role model and as a leader, people have high expectations from Rep Pacquiao. He should be careful and avoid discriminatory statements. Among Rep Pacquiao’s constituents are members of the LGBT community and they do not deserve this prejudice.”
Banned from The Grove
Meanwhile, The Grove, an entertainment destination in Los Angeles, California, banned Pacquiao from its premises following Pacman’s controversial comments.
In a tweet, The Grove said, “Boxer Manny Pacquiao is not welcome at The Grove. The Grove is a gathering place for all Angelenos, not a place for intolerance.”
Pacquiao was scheduled to be interviewed at the The Grove for the entertainment show Extra hosted by Mario Lopez. But in a statement, The Grove said, “Based on news reports of statements made by Mr. Pacquiao we have made it be known that he is not welcome at The Grove and will not be interviewed here now or in the future.”
Bill Reich, the mall’s spokesperson also said “We’re cancelling the event. Manny Pacquiao is not coming to the Grove.”
Pacquiao is now in LA to train for his June 9 fight with Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas.
As of posting, Pacquiao has yet to respond to the online rage. – Rappler.com
(Below is a curation of what the online community thinks and feels about Pacquiao’s controversial statement on gay marriage. Join the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #Pacquiaosviews)