Los Angeles Correspondent
The world champion boxer has been criticized ever since he was quoted in an interview on the examiner.com website saying he opposed President Barack Obama's support for gay marriage.
Pacquiao said Wednesday that he doesn't support gay marriage because of his strong, Roman Catholic beliefs. However, he said he has gay friends and relatives, and supports their rights.
"I'm not against the gay people," Pacquiao said. "I'm not condemning them. ... I have a cousin (who is) gay. I have relatives (who are) gay. I have a lot of friends (who are) gay, so I'm not condemning gays. What I said is I'm not in favor of same-sex marriage. That's the one thing I said to the guy."
Pacquiao was banned from a popular Hollywood shopping mall after the interview with the examiner.com was published and an online petition encouraging sponsor Nike to drop Pacquiao received 4,868 signatures before it was suspended Wednesday morning. The petition site, change.org, posted a note saying that the author of the original article had clarified that Pacquiao didn't cite the Bible passage.
Although Pacquiao is experiencing a zealous passion for his religion and has socially conservative views in line with many Filipinos' beliefs, he was eager to clear his name after heavy criticism over the belief that the eight-division world champion boxer was against gay rights and even supported the killing of gay people.
"It's in the Bible: Do not judge. I'm not judging," Pacquiao said.
Although he opposes same-sex marriage, Pacquiao declined to weigh in on civil unions, the internationally popular alternative, saying he didn't know enough about the concept to form an opinion.
"It's hard to give a correct answer to what's the right situation," he said.
"With great power comes great responsibility, so that's my responsibility, to handle everything," Pacquiao said. "This has happened before. You have to explain and understand. It's a lot more fun to train (for a fight)."
Pacquiao is the Philippines' most famous person and one of the world's most popular athletes. The eight-division world champion is a movie star, singer, pitchman and congressman, representing the Sarangani province in the Philippines' House of Representatives since May 2010.
Pacquiao has embraced Catholicism in recent months after marital trouble with his wife, Jinkee. Although he has always attended Mass before his fights, the boxer has taken up frequent Bible study.
Floyd Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao's only rival for pound-for-pound supremacy in boxing, made a public statement on Twitter in support of same-sex marriage.
"I stand behind President Obama & support gay marriage," Mayweather tweeted. "I'm an American citizen & I believe people should live their life the way they want."
Pacquiao is the fourth of six children born into stark poverty in the Philippines, and he has four children of his own with his wife. He has spoken out against birth control and pro-choice campaigns for women during his career, affirming his deep-rooted Roman Catholic faith.