By MICHAEL ODMARK
Leaders from the gay and lesbian communities on Thursday called for a boycott of world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao’s upcoming match after the Filipino fighter said that people in same-sex relationships are “worse than animals.”
“Boycott the fight,” chanted the group of men and women holding picket signs in front of Posh, a gay bar in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan.
“While he may be a champion athlete…all I hear is his hate speech…” said Floyd Rumohr, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, who was joined by musician Randy Jones from disco group, The Village People, and philanthropist Jean Shafiroff to speak against Pacquiao’s “hateful rhetoric.”
Pacquiao’s welterweight bout against Timothy Bradley was scheduled for April 9 in Las Vegas and airing on HBO.
In addition to rallying fellow members of the LGBTQ community, Rumohr also urged the event’s corporate sponsors to revoke their support of the event. Nike ended their endorsement contract with the boxer in February, calling his comments “abhorrent.”
Rumohr called for other companies to follow suit, urging, “Pepsi, HBO, and Pay Per View to stop supporting hate speech and follow the lead of Nike, a true champion of the sports world.”
HBO issued an official statement in early March saying that, although they consider Pacquiao’s comments “insensitive, offensive and deplorable,” they will still broadcast the event because of their “obligation to both fighters.”
Pacquiao, a conservative Christian who is running for a seat in the Philippines senate in May, provoked the storm of controversy in a TV interview in early February.
“It’s common sense,” he said. “Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”
“Just to set the record straight,” responded Rumohr. “Homosexuality has been observed in 1,500 species of animals.”
Pacquiao later apologized on Twitter for his remarks, saying he was, “sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals.” But he went on to say he stands by his belief “against same sex marriage because of what the Bible says.”
Pepsi and Pay Per View were unable to be reached for comment.