Tennis legend turned homophobic pastor Margaret Court is getting a top Australia Day Honour this year and it’s sparked intense backlash.
Court is set to be promoted to a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) next Tuesday. She was named an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2007 for her tennis achievements.
However it will be upgraded to a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC). The Order of Australia has four levels, of which Court’s new “Companion” gong is highest.
While the names of this year’s recipients are under embargo, Melbourne writer and broadcaster Justin Smith leaked Court’s name online early.
Smith tweeted that he believes “the debate that’ll follow after the 26th will be pointless and tedious”.
“So let’s do it now,” he said.
“Court’s extreme views on same-sex and transgender people have been well-reported.
“I think they’ve been an international embarrassment and belong in a very different era.
“Australia is beyond believing others are less than equal or suffering from a form of abnormality that needs correcting.”
Smith went on, “Despite her giant achievements in tennis, any honour like this is given to a person as a whole, otherwise it’s meaningless.
“Court has used her title of ‘Reverend’ and carefully selected parts of the Bible to degrade the existence of other people.”
Margaret Court’s honour ‘should be reconsidered’
Justin Smith called on the Prime Minister, the Governor-General and the Council of the Order of the Australia to reconsider the honour.
The AC honour rewards “eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or humanity at large.”
Court’s views, Smith said, “puts ‘humanity at large’ and Australia in reverse.”
“It only elevates very ugly and damaging thinking,” he said.
“And judging by this gong, it seems there’s still high level support for that thinking.”
Margaret Court is going to be honoured on Australia Day. With our highest honour. She shouldn’t, and we need to have the debate before it happens.
Have a read. pic.twitter.com/hFsJ8UOXyz
— Justin Smith (@justinsmithword) January 21, 2021
Tennis legend has likened LGBTIQ people to Nazis and ‘the devil’
Margaret Court won a total of 24 major titles, a record that still stands 48 years after her retirement.
She is now a pastor in Perth. However her views on homosexuality, same-sex marriage and transgender people have completely overshadowed her sporting achievements.
Court has likened LGBTIQ advocates to Nazis plotting to “get in the minds of children”, complained tennis is “full of lesbians” who “take young ones into parties”, suggested gender diversity was “all the devil” and claimed marriage equality would lead to the cancellation of Christmas.
Margaret Court told the West Australian she hadn’t expected to receive the “great honour” and appreciated it.
“I’ve had a wonderful life and a full life and career and I enjoyed it,” she said.
“I loved representing my nation and playing for my nation and so it’s always been a part of my life and still is.”
She added, “I haven’t seen any [of the backlash] and I think I’ll just stay around the tennis side in this time and that’s what I’m receiving it for.”
Politicians weigh in on backlash over Court’s honour
Asked about Court’s honour, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he was “sick of talking about that person every summer”.
“I do not support that. I don’t believe she has views that accord with the vast majority of people across our nation,” he said.
“[The vast majority] see people from the LGBTIQ community as equal and deserving of dignity, respect and safety.”
Andrews slammed Margaret Court’s views as “disgraceful and hurtful”, adding they “cost lives”.
“Calling out bigotry is always important. This bigoted quackery costs lives,” he said.
“But I don’t give out those gongs, that’s not a matter for me, that’s for others.
“Speak to them about why they think those views… should be honoured.
Andrews also added, “I’m sick of having this discussion in one form or another, every single summer.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison wouldn’t comment on Margaret Court when asked about the backlash.
“I can’t comment on an award that’s done through an independent process that hasn’t been announced or I have no official knowledge of,” he said.
“It is a system that recognises the full spectrum of individuals across this country.”
Margaret Court has already been honoured for her tennis prowess.
She’s already an Officer of the Order of Australia.
I think it’s clear for everyone to see that making her a Companion of the Order of Australia has nothing to do with tennis.
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) January 22, 2021
I don’t want to give this person’s disgraceful, bigoted views any oxygen.
But when others insist on rewarding them with this country’s highest honour – I think it’s worth saying again:
Grand Slam wins don’t give you some right to spew hatred and create division.
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) January 22, 2021
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.