FILE - Manny Pacquiao at a press conference in New York City.
FILE - Manny Pacquiao at a press conference in New York City.

MANILA - World boxing star Manny Pacquiao has drawn an outcry in the Philippines after publicly denouncing people in same-sex relationships as “worse than animals.”

Pacquiao, a high school dropout from a poverty-stricken rural family who went on to become a boxing legend, made the remark when he and other Philippine senatorial candidates were asked by the local TV5 network about their views on same-sex marriage.

His remarks were posted online Monday by TV5, sparking criticism, including by some fellow Filipino celebrities.

“It's just common sense,” said the 37-year-old Pacquiao, who is currently a member of the House of Representatives. “Have you seen any animal having male-to-male or female-to-female relations?”

Animals, he said, are better because they recognize gender differences, and “if you have male-to-male or female-to-female [relationships], then people are worse than animals.”

Among those who strongly reacted to his remarks was popular gay comedian and TV host Jose Marie Viceral, known as Vice Ganda. Viceral tweeted Tuesday that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders are humans, not animals. He said that they're not saints, but that they'll pray for Pacquiao.

Vice Ganda posted a picture of Pope Francis, suggesting that even the beloved leader of the Roman Catholic does not condemn gays. He quoted the pope: “If a person is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Danton Remoto of the LGBT group Ladlad said Pacquiao's comments showed he had a shallow understanding of issues important to the LGBT community.

“He is running for a national position and he should be a senator of everybody, not just over the hill boxers and straight people,” Remoto said in a telephone interview.

Pacquiao, who has become an active Christian, said in an Instagram posting that he was not condemning anyone, but was just expounding on the truth professed by the Bible.

I'd “rather obey the Lord's command than obeying the desires of the flesh,” he said.

He posted a biblical phrase that says: “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men.”

“God Bless everyone,” he said. “I love you all.”