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Margaret Court to receive Australia Day award despite same-sex marriage views

Tennis legend Margaret Court is set to be recognised on the Australia Day honours list, despite continued outrage over her controversial views on same-sex marriage.

Court, 78, holds the record for the most Grand Slam singles titles won by a woman, but in recent years has more regularly made headlines her opposition to same-sex marriage because of her religious views.

The sporting legend has been chosen as a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC) – the highest individual honour available to Australians.

Asked about the decision on Friday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he does not believe Court is a worthy recipient. 

‘I do not support that. I do not believe she should be honoured. I’m sick of having the discussion, in one form or another, every summer,’ Mr Andrews said. 

‘But I don’t give out those gongs, that’s a matter for others… you might want to speak to them about why they think those views, which are disgraceful, hurtful and cost lives, should be honoured.’ 

Tennis legend Margaret Court (pictured) is set to be recognised on the Australia Day honours list, despite continued outrage over her controversial views on same-sex marriage

Asked on Friday about the decision to hand Court an award, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) said he did not believe she should be honoured

Asked on Friday about the decision to hand Court an award, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) said he did not believe she should be honoured

Poll

Do you think Margaret Court should be recognised with an Australia Day honour?

  • YES 251 votes
  • NO 114 votes

Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to comment on the news, saying he had no knowledge of whether Court would be recognised on Australia Day.

‘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 those,’ he said.

That is despite Mr Morrison being set to announce the major recipients of this year’s honours at a ceremony on January 25. 

The full Australia Day honours list was set to be announced after that ceremony, but Melbourne writer Justin Smith broke news of Court’s award on Twitter on Friday.

Media outlets receive an embargoed list of recipients ahead of Australia Day, but Mr Smith said he not receive the list – and was instead told of Court’s award by ‘sources’.

He said he decided to go public with the news because he believed it was important debate about whether the tennis legend is a worthy recipient begin ‘now’. 

‘It’s customary not to disclose recipients until the public announcements, but I think the debate that’ll follow after the 26th will be pointless and tedious,’ Mr Smith wrote.

‘So, let’s do it now.’

Court has previously made a member of the Order of Australia (AO) and received the most excellent order of the British Empire (MBE).

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese said that unlike those honours, which he said Court receive for her tennis achievements, the decision to name her an AC had nothing to do with sport.  

‘Margaret Court has already been honoured for her tennis prowess. She’s already an Officer of the Order of Australia,’ Mr Albanese tweeted. 

‘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.’ 

After retiring from tennis, the deeply religious Court founded a Pentecostal church in Western Australia in 1995. 

As Australia voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, the ex-sportswoman’s disapproval of same-sex relationships became newsworthy.

Court - who holds the record for the most Grand Slam singles titles won by a woman - has been open in her disapproval of same-sex marriage, previously blaming all homosexual tendencies on the work of 'the devil'

Court – who holds the record for the most Grand Slam singles titles won by a woman – has been open in her disapproval of same-sex marriage, previously blaming all homosexual tendencies on the work of ‘the devil’

An embargoed list of recipients are usually handed to media ahead of the ceremony but Melbourne-based writer Justin Smith broke news of Court's award on Twitter on Friday

An embargoed list of recipients are usually handed to media ahead of the ceremony but Melbourne-based writer Justin Smith broke news of Court’s award on Twitter on Friday

In a 2017 interview on Vision Christian Radio, Court called homosexuality a sin and also spoke out against transgender people.

‘So is adultery. So is fornication… all those things are a lust for the flesh,’ Court said. 

‘If you feel like being a girl, you can dress like a girl… what confusion to a child.’ 

Mr Smith, a columnist for The Herald Sun and commentator on Sunrise, said he no longer views Court as a sporting icon but rather an ‘international embarrassment’. 

‘Court’s views on same-sex and transgender people have been well reported,’ he said in his tweet.

‘I think they’ve been an international embarrassment and belong in a very different era.

Court won a total of 24 major titles over her career, a record that still stands 48 years after she retired

Court won a total of 24 major titles over her career, a record that still stands 48 years after she retired

‘Australia is beyond believing others are less than equal or suffer from a form of abnormality that needs correcting.’

Court won a total of 24 major titles over her career, a record that still stands 48 years after she retired.

She won the grand slam – all four major tournaments in the same year – in 1970.

The 50th anniversary of Court’s achievement was recognised at the Australian Open last year, despite calls for Tennis Australia to boycott such a ceremony.

There have been calls from fellow tennis legends including Billie Jean King and John McEnroe to change the name of Margaret Court Arena – the second biggest court at Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open. 

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