Alison Xamon says Australia Day Awards should not reward hate speech

Greens spokesperson for Sexuality and Gender Identity Hon Alison Xamon MLC has strongly opposed the decision of the National Australia Day Council to promote former tennis player and religious leader Margaret Court to Companion Division in the Order of Australia.

Xamon said the decision to award Court yet another award was inappropriate given her widely-publicised, extremely homophobic and transphobic views.

She said whilst many years ago Court was undoubtedly a good tennis player, her views were wildly out-of-step with a Western Australian community which accepted and embraced people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ).

“The sort of public vitriol and damnation which Ms Court has chosen to level at LGBTIQ people year after year is precisely the sort of hate speech that contributes to the devastating rates of mental health issues and suicide within the LGBTIQ community,” Xamon said.

“Elevating someone like Margaret Court to the highest level of honours available in Australia is insulting to the many people who have worked hard over many years for LGBTIQ human rights.”

Xamon said the decision showed again that the National Australia Day Council was outrageously out of touch with the sentiments of ordinary Australians.

“We know that the National Australia Day Council refuses to acknowledge or engage with the national debate around the need to change the date of Invasion Day, in favour of a more inclusive date which does not mark the beginning of 200 years of death and dispossession for First Nations people,” she said. “We should not be recognising people who spread hate and cause distress.

“Acceptance and celebration of people of diverse sexuality and gender identity is essential for genuine social justice and equality.”

Rights organisation just.equal have also shared their amazement that Reverend Court was being promoted to the highest level of the honours system describing it as a “reward for prejudice”.

Spokesperson for LGBTI lobby group just.equal, Brian Greig, said Court had already been honoured for her sporting contributions many times, in recent times her major contribution to public life had been stirring up prejudice.

“Margaret Court has already received an Order of Australia for her contribution to tennis, so this second award rewards her only other major contribution to national life: opposing LGBTI equality and stirring up prejudice against us.

“This reward for prejudice will only encourage further prejudice, discrimination and division.”

“We also fear the award will be a curtain-raiser for the likely return in 2021 of Scott Morrison’s Religious Discrimination Bill, which allows discrimination and hate speech in the name of religion and for which Margaret Court has been a poster girl.”

“They key issue here is that Mrs Court’s opposition to LGBTI equality and inclusion has caused deep harm and that harm should not be honoured.”

Greig said the Religious Discrimination Bill will roll-back existing discrimination and hate speech protections in the name of ‘religious freedom’.

“The kind of anti-LGBTI discrimination Margaret Court has engaged in for more than 25 years is not different to racism and should be treated with the same disdain”, he said.

Among Reverend Court’s contributions to public debate in Australia over the last 20 years she has included campaigning against the landmark law reforms in 2002 that equalised the age of consent, voicing her opposition to fay and lesbian people being covered by the state’s anti-discrimination laws, opposing IVF technology, and opposing adoption by same-sex couples.

In the past the religious leader has described children raised by gay and lesbian parents suffer from shame and guilt, and also launched personal attacks on Tennis star Casey Dellaqua and her partner when they welcomed a child.

Reverend Court has also complained that professional tennis is “full of lesbians”, and in a radio interview described transgender children being  “the devil”. While the religious leader later denied ever making the comments, the audio of the interview remains on the internet.

just.equal also described Court is an advocate and practitioner of ‘gay conversation therapy’ – a practice that has been condemned by the Australian Medical Association as both “harmful and dangerous.”. The religious leader has often spoken about how gay people have come to her church and learned to live in a heterosexual marriages.

OIP Staff

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