Anti-gay boxer Pacquiao set to win Senate seat after voters elect first trans candidate

Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao is set to become a Philippine senator, despite the recent backlash over anti-gay remarks.

Partial and unofficial results show Pacquiao in the winning circle with 15.5 million votes, placing him seventh out of 12 elective Senate seats. Half of the Philippine Senate’s seats were up for grabs in this week’s elections.

The boxer has recently reinvented himself as a conservative politician – attempting to appeal to the country’s strong Catholic population after years of womanising and hard partying.

The eight-time world champion sparked criticism across the world in February, after describing gay couples as “worse than animals”.

“It’s common sense,” he said. “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 male on male, female on female then man is worse than animals.

The sports star has since claimed the comments were taken out of context, but added that he was not bothered about the backlash – despite losing millions in sponsorship after being dropped by Nike.

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.

However, many say the Catholic population are softening towards LGBT issues and are beginning to embrace the community.

Proof of this came as trans candidate Geraldine Roman won a congressional seat in Bataan – a province 130km north of Metro Manila.

She became the first ever trans candidate to be elected to congress.

Following her win, she promised to champion gender equality and revive an anti-discrimination bill that has languished in past congresses.

Her mother previously held the seat, and served the maximum of three terms.