Manny Pacquiao’s homophobia represents progress for LGBT+ rights

Manny Pacquiao has been met with resistance on worldwide since he has expressed his extreme views on homosexuality, calling same-sex couples who enter into marriage “worse than animals”. His views and others like his, however horribly misinformed they may be, will ultimately make progress towards equal rights for LGBT+ people.

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Another loudmouth boxer

At this point, we are no strangers to high-profile boxers making waves with their comments on homosexuality. It only seems like yesterday that world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury attracted criticism for stating that now abortion and gay marriage have been legalised in many countries, only the legalisation of paedophilia is necessary to complete the satanic trinity and to bring the devil home. These comments, from the person who also bestowed us with other nuggets of wisdom such as, “a woman’s best place is in the kitchen and on her back”, caused an uproar, with over 140,000 people signing a petition to have his nomination for BBC Sports Personality of the Year revoked. 

Only three months later, Manny Pacquiao, world champion boxer and Filipino politician, has said during a TV interview that gay people are worse than animals, as at least animals “know how to distinguish male from female” and that “animals are better because they recognise gender differences”. The boxer even went so far as to ask the interviewer “Have you ever seen any animals having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?”. Clearly Pacquiao was unaware of the numerous studies that homosexual behaviour has been observed in about 500 species.

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It’s about freedom of expression and provoking discussion

Instead of deconstructing Manny Pacquiao’s comments, which really add nothing new to the rhetoric of the opposition to gay marriage, it is more interesting to analyse the resultant backlash from this interview. Shortly after the interview emerged, Nike ended its sponsorship deal with the Pacquiao, reaffirming their stance of strong opposition to discrimination and their support for LGBT rights. Recently, the notion of “political correctness” has been put under the microscope and some believe Nike’s decision to drop the boxing star to be a knee-jerk reaction that impinges on Pacquiao’s freedom of expression. This however ignores the fundamental quality of freedom of expression: that anyone is free to respond to statements with resistance. Nike exercised their right to decide the views that they wish to represent their company, in the same way that Pacquiao exercised his right to voice his opinions on gay marriage.

The fact that the expression of these views is met with such widespread criticism shows just how far we have come in the last few decades towards equal rights for LGBT people. Each time such views are expressed by a high-profile person, it provokes discussion through worldwide media coverage that brings the issue of LGBT rights to parts of the world where people aren’t talking about it. Instead of simply dismissing the opinions of outspoken boxers like Manny Pacquiao and Tyson Fury, we should appreciate the impact that the resultant discussion has on LGBT people who are not afforded the same rights as those we have in the UK.

This article was written by Kieran Smith

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