Boxing champ Manny Pacquiao “may still win” in the upcoming elections in the Philippines, experts say, despite making controversial anti-gay comments.
The eight-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has sparked criticism in the Philippines after describing gay couples as “worse than animals”.
He has since apologised for offence caused, but subsequently was dropped by sponsor Nike, which described the comments as “abhorrent”.
Despite the controversy, it is expected that voters in the mainly Catholic Philippines, may still vote for Pacquiao for one of 12 vacant Senatorial seats there.
Benito Lim, political science professor at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University, told Reuters: “Pacquiao has clearly offended the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community with his comments on same sex marriage, but this group represents a minority and this will not affect the boxer’s popularity among the voters,”
“He may still win in the elections.”
Some have considered that the boxer has caused offence with the words, but polls have consistently ranked him eighth out of 48 candidates for the 12 vacant seats.
LGBT groups have called on voters to walk away from the champ, after the comments, but the controversy may not have been enough to dent his campaign.
Although same-sex sexual activity is not a crime in the Philippines, same-sex marriage is not recognised, and gay couples are unable to adopt.
Last year, two same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses in the Philippines – only to have them rejected.
Pacquiao’s comments follow those of fellow boxer Tyson Fury, who recently caused controversyafter comparing gay people to paedophiles.
The boxer has simultaneously stood by his comments and denied being homophobic – while also claiming that sex with children was legalised by a fictional ‘Gay Rights Act 1977‘.