Around 100 LGBTI equality campaigners have rallied outside a Liberal Party fundraiser in Melbourne to protest the appearance of tennis legend Margaret Court as a special guest.
Court’s boycott of Qantas over its same-sex marriage support and comments linking gay and transgender people to Nazis and the devil sparked a national furore last month.
“Margaret Court’s hateful, bigoted comments are worthy of protest in their own right,” Equal Love organiser Anthony Wallace said ahead of the protest on Thursday night.
“But our decision to call a protest against her was cemented when the Liberal Party decided to endorse her comments by allowing her to speak at a party fundraiser event as their special guest speaker.”
In online video, the crowd of marriage equality campaigners can be seen chanting “Hey Margaret, you’ve lost the set, your bigotry can’t pass the net” and “Hey hey, ho ho, transphobia has got to go” outside Melbourne’s Athenaeum Club, where the fundraiser was held.
Police formed a barrier around a back entrance to the building to hold back a group of the protesters who ran from the venue’s main entrance to throw glitter on arriving guests.
On Thursday, Attorney-General George Brandis defended Court’s appearance at the function – organised before she made the comments – saying the Liberal Party understood “different people have different views” with regard to Court’s views.
“We can – and I do – stand up for both the rights of gay people and the rights of others to express a view that I, myself, personally find distressing,” he said.
Out tennis champion Martina Navratilova previously slammed Court’s “sick and dangerous” comments and suggested the name of Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena be changed.
Tennis Australia responded by acknowledging Court’s tennis record, but said her personal views were out of line with the organisation’s “values of equality, inclusion and diversity”.