Eight-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao has sparked fury saying gay couples are ‘worse than animals.’

Pacquiao, who is a member of the United Nationalist Alliance, is running for a seat in the Philippines Senate in national elections that are due to take place on May 9. He was asked about his stance on gay marriage in an interview with local broadcaster “Bilang Pilipino” on Monday.

“It’s common sense. Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female.

“If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”

Gay marriage is outlawed in the Philippines due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church and 80 percent of the country’s 100 million people subscribe to the faith.

Singer Aiza Seguerra, who recently married her actress-girlfriend, called on voters to boycott Pacquiao, who is also preparing for his last boxing fight in April, calling him an “ignorant, bigoted hypocrite”.

“You might have done our country proud but with your statement, you just showed the whole country why we shouldn’t vote for you,” Ms Seguerra said in a post on Instagram.

Jonas Bagas of TFL Sexuality, a Philippine advocacy group, blasted Pacquiao over his comments.

“His willingness to strip LGBTs of humanity shows he’s not fit for public service.”

Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton also weighed in on the controversial remark, calling it a “barbaric” view: “Look, if your religious beliefs prevent you from accepting same-sex marriage, that’s on you. That’s your idea of propriety. But there’s absolutely no call to demonize and denigrate gay people by comparing them to animals just because their love is something you’re unable to accept.”

Pacquiao reaffirmed his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples to the Associated Press, but he stressed he is “not against the gay people.”

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