Boxer Manny Pacquiao defended his opposition to same-sex marriage but apologized Tuesday for saying people involved in gay relationships were "worse than animals."
Pacquiao was widely criticized by same-sex marriage and gay advocates after he responded to a question to Filipino senate candidates from a television network in his native country.
"It's just common sense," Pacquiao said, explaining that animals understand gender differences. "Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations? ... If you have male-to-male or female-to-female (relationships), then people are worse than animals."
The 37-year-old Pacquiao, who is a member of the House of Representatives in the Philippines, apologized via social media for his comments.
"I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals," he said in a Facebook video. "Please forgive me for those I've hurt."
He also posted a message on Instagram, saying he was not judging or condemning individuals but expressing a biblical truth and his obedience to God to avoid "the desires of the flesh."
Pacquiao, who has won titles in eight divisions during his prolific fighting career, plans to retire from the ring after an April 9 bout in Las Vegas against Timothy Bradley Jr. in which he will be guaranteed to earn $20 million.
I'm sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals. Please forgive me for those I've hurt. 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. God Bless you all and I'm praying for you.Posted by Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday, February 16, 2016