Margaret Court to be awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia

There are reports that Margaret Court will be awarded one of Australia’s highest honours, the Companion of the Order of Australia at next week’s Australia Day celebrations.

The news was first reported online by writer and broadcaster Justin Smith who said while Reverend Court had impressive achievements in tennis, her many negative statements about same-gender attracted people and transgender people had made her an international embarrassment.

The awards are usually not revealed until the eve of Australia Day, but some media organisations are given an embargoed copy of the awards in advance. Smith said he did not receive the information about Margaret Court being honoured from any of the media outlets he works for, but from an independent source.

More than fifty years ago Margaret Court set records in the world of tennis that remain unbroken to this day. After retiring from sport she founded her own church, the Victory Life Centre which is based in Perth.

Over the decades Reverend Court has regularly made negative statements about gay, lesbian and bisexual and transgender people. On many occasions she has suggested that gay people parenting children is concerning, and often shared her belief that same-sex attraction is likely the result of trauma or sexual assault.

The website of the Governor-General describes the award as “individuals are appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or to humanity at large”.

Recommendations about people who should be honoured are made to the Governor-General by the Council of the Order of Australia.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews was asked on ABC radio this morning the news that Reverend Court’s honour would be upgraded and responded by saying he was: “sick of talking about that person every summer”.

Later in a press conference Premier Andrews said the views Reverend Court held were “disgraceful and hurtful” and it was important to call out bigotry; “Calling out bigotry is always important. This bigoted quackery costs lives.”

“I don’t believe she has views that accord with the vast majority of people across our nation, that see people from the LGBTIQ community as equal and deserving of dignity respect and safety. I don’t believe she shares those views and I don’t believe she should be honoured because of that.”

Premier Andrews said it was for the people who give out the awards to explain why they thought “those views which are disgraceful, hurtful and cost lives should be honoured”.

There have been longstanding calls to rename Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena, including support from many tennis legends including Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King and John McEnroe. Debate about the naming of the statement erupts annually as the Australian Open is held at the Victorian facility.

Broadcaster Phillip Adams shared his thoughts on the revelation. In a Twitter post he said awarding Court was “far worse” than the controversial 2020 decision to honour Bettina Arndt, or former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision to create a knighthood for Prince Phillip.

“A disgraceful, shameful, tone deaf decision.” Adams declared.

OUTinPerth has reached out to Reverend Court for comment. We have also asked the Governor General’s Office is any consideration was given to Reverend Court’s statements about LGBTIQ+ people before the award was given.

Graeme Watson
This breaking news post is being updated. 

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