Former boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has said that he has no issues with sportswear giant Nike terminating his contract after his controversial comments about gay people, and insisted that it is more important for people "to hear the truth."
"Whatever decision Nike makes is its decision and I respect that," Pacquiao said, according to USA Today Sports. "Its sponsorship of me now only involves my clothes for my fight. Our contract had already ended aside from sponsoring the boxing."
"I am not condemning the LGBT (community)," the Christian fighter and Filipino politician added. "What I am condemning is the act. I'm happier because I'm telling the truth … It's worse if we will hide the truth.
"I'm happier that a lot of people were alarmed by the truth," the eight-division world champion said.
Pacquiao's comments that led to the controversy came from an interview he gave with Filipino station TV5, where he said:
"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 from female. If we approve [of] male on male, female on female, then man is worse than animals."
Pacquiao later clarified in a number of social media postings that he did not mean to offend LGBT people, but was only talking about what he believes based on the Bible.
"I still stand on my belief that I'm against same-sex marriage because of what the Bible says, but I'm not condemning LGBT. I love you all with the love of the Lord," he wrote on Facebook.
That did not stop Nike from terminating their professional relationship, however, and the sportswear giant called the boxer's comments on gay people "abhorrent" in a statement.
"Nike strongly opposes discrimination of any kind and has a long history of supporting and standing up for the rights of the LGBT community," the statement added.
Pacquiao's promoter, Bob Arum, the chairman of Top Rank, also argued that the boxer made a mistake by not realizing the gravity of what he was saying.
"Look, there is a portion in the Bible, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, against homosexuality. Modern thinking is that this is prohibition in an ancient time. Many people feel that way. Other people think differently," Arum said.
He also tried to add context to Pacquiao's words by noting that the former champion is a "politician first and a fighter second," and that his views on gay marriage are directed more toward his home country, where the practice is not legal.
"So the statement that he made, as inarticulate as it was, was basically designed for home consumption. It was said in Tagalog (the Filipino language). He didn't realize – or maybe he did realize and didn't care – that the world is a small place and a statement made in the Philippines goes viral on the internet," Arum added.