Boxer Manny Pacquaio, who once called gay people ‘animals’, to run for president of Philippines

Manny Pacquiao in the boxing ring

Boxer Manny Pacquaio has announced his bid to become president of the Philippines – but LGBT+ folk are far from impressed.

In an announcement shared across social media platforms on 19 September, Manny Pacquaio wrote: “We need government to serve our people with integrity, compassion and transparency.”

The boxer, often regarded as one of the sport’s greats, was elected as a senator of the Philippines in 2016, having previously been elected to the country’s House of Representatives in 2010.

Although he continues to professionally box, Pacquaio lost his most recent match and said he was considering retirement. Only a month later, he announced his intention to run for president – prompting an examination of his history of anti-LGBT+ comments.

Manny Pacquaio: ‘Gay people are worse than animals’

In an interview in February 2016, Manny Pacquaio sparked international outrage when he said that same-sex couples “are worse than animals”.

Following backlash at the time, he apologised via Instagram citing his Christian beliefs, writing: “I’m sorry for hurting people by comparing homosexuals to animals… I still stand on my belief I’m against same-sex marriage… but I’m not condemning LGBT…”

The row eventually led to his sponsorship with Nike being withdrawn.

Following the announcement of his presidential run, Filipino singer and television host Toni Gonzaga-Soriano grilled Pacquaio on his LGBT+ views in an interview on September 19.

In response, he said: “Who am I to judge a person… I don’t condemn them.” He also told her that he had LGBT+ nieces, workers and colleagues. 

There has been a mixed response to Manny Pacquiao’s interview on social media, with some believing he has changed.

However, many remain skeptical of his support of the LGBT+ community, with one person saying: “Don’t use LGBT rights for your presidential campaign. We all know what your stand is.”


The current president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, famously, he told a crowd in 2019 he had “cured” himself from being gay. He later told LGBT+ people that they should not have been offended by his ‘joke’.

In 2017 Duterte said that members of the LGBT+ community would not suffer from discrimination under his administration and indicated his support for same-sex unions.

However, there has been no legislation put in place to improve LGBT+ rights in the time since.