Nike urged: Drop Pacquiao as endorser

(UPDATE) Hundreds of netizens have supported a petition asking sportswear company Nike to drop boxer and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao as an endorser, following his opposition against gay marriage.

The petition, initiated by Gay Marriage USA via Change.org, asks Nike to "say 'no' to hate speech" by withdrawing its sponsorship of Pacquiao, a champion boxer whom the brand has supported since 2008.

"Following [U.S. President Barack] Obama's recent announcement of support for marriage equality, Pacquiao quoted Bible excerpts to state that homosexuals should be put to death: If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads," the petition read.

Pacquiao was initially quoted as saying marriage "should not be of the same sex so as to adulterate the altar of matrimony, like in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah of Old."

But in a report on Abs-cbnnews.com, Pacquiao said he is against same-sex marriage but not against gays.

He also denied citing Leviticus 20:13, which says: "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

He said he had not even read the book of Leviticus yet.

Filipino-American writer Granville Ampong, whose article was the source of reports that Pacquiao cited Leviticus, said he had been misquoted by "biased writers."

"As we see, nowhere in my supposition and integration of my interview with Pacquiao did I mention that Pacquiao recited this Leviticus 20:13 nor did I imply that Pacquiao had quoted such," he said on Examiner.com.

But it has gone out of control. The petition has gained steam.

"Nike is a multi-billion dollar industry and [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender] people contribute billions to this company. It is completely unacceptable that such a high-profile company should be sponsoring a boxer who is encouraging violence towards LGBT people. Tell Nike to drop its sponsorship," the petition read.

"No one who is a public figure, and or, a role model to people, especially children, can be allowed to call for the death of others. I am saddened by his closed-mindedness, but am horrified if Nike keeps him on as a spokesperson after such a violent comment, and violent view point," one supporter of the petition, Aimee Sharpe, said.

Lorrie Adams, who also signed the petition, said: "As a Filipino and as a mother, I am deeply disappointed and outraged at Manny's inexcusable comments. Freedom of speech also comes with the sense to be responsible for your words, to think before you speak."

Pacquiao's comments were also criticized on Twitter. "We ask Filipino Christian leaders, especially those who are guiding him, to disown bigoted Bible interpretation of Manny Pacquiao," blogger and Twitter user Tonyo Cruz said.

Twitter user @JessieBanzales, however, wanted to hear more. "Hi, we want to invite Bro. Manny Pacquiao here in Bahrain to share his testimony (to the) Filipino Community. Please extend our invitation," he said.

But Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio expressed his support for Pacquiao: "Go, go, go PACMAN! Show them that we will not waver in our beliefs! God Bless You! YEAH BA!!"

In a running Yahoo! PH poll, most respondents say PH is not yet ready for same-sex marriage.

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