— -- Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao apologized today for saying people in gay relationships are "worse than animals," causing a firestorm of criticism on social media and among some Filipino celebrities.
Pacquiao wrote on Facebook today that he was sorry for "hurting people" and that he's not "condemning LGBT," but concluded that he is still against same-sex marriage "because of what the Bible says."
"I love you all with the love of the Lord," Pacquiao wrote. "God Bless you all and I'm praying for you."
Pacquiao, who is running for a Senate seat in the Philippines' May election, made the inflammatory remark during a television interview when he was asked about his views on same-sex marriage.
“It’s just common sense,” Pacquiao, speaking in Tagalog, said in the interview. “Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?”
He added: “Worse than animals,” going on to say, “Even animals are better than that.”
It's unclear when the interview aired.
At first, Pacquiao, 37, wasn't repentant for the remarks, accompanying an image of him and his wife posted to Instagram earlier today with the caption: "I would rather obey the Lord's command than obeying the desires of the flesh."
Gay marriage is against the law in the Philippines, where Pacquiao, who positions himself as conservative Christian politician, serves in the House of Representatives.
Although the country's capital, Manila, houses a vibrant gay scene, much of the country's population is Catholic and holds conservative views on gay rights. Pacquiao drew the ire of prominent gay personalities such as TV host and comedian Jose Marie Viceral and singer and former child actress Aiza Seguerra.
Viceral, known as Vince Ganda, tweeted that Pacquiao should stick to boxing.
Seguerra, a transgender man, called the eight-time world champion a "bigoted hypocrite" in a heated Instagram post.
“You might've done our country proud but with your statement, you just showed the whole country why we shouldn't vote for you,” Seguerra wrote.
Danton Remoto, chairman of pro-LGBT political party Ladlad, wrote on Twitter that Pacquiao should "read up on LGBT issues" or be left in the "Dark Ages."
Pacquiao announced in October that his last fight will be April 9 before retiring to a life of politics in the Philippines.