Australian PM: Ignore Margaret Court’s anti-gay views, celebrate her for tennis
The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that anti-gay tennis legend Margaret Court should be celebrated for her achievments in tennis rather than berated for her views on same-sex marriage.
Margarate Court, who won a record 64 grand slams, this week caused controversy when she said she would boycott Quantas Airways because of the company’s support for same-sex marriage.
In a letter to gay Qantas boss Alan Joyce she wrote: “I am disappointed that Qantas has become an active promoter for same-sex marriage. I believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as stated in the Bible.
“Your statement leaves me no option but to use other airlines where possible for my extensive travelling.”
Her views have led to lots of calls for her to have the Margaret Court Arena, used in the Australian Open, renamed, but Tennis Australia has said it will remain with its current name.
Speaking to 3AW on Friday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has been criticised himself for insisting on a costly and lengthy plebiscite on same-sex marriage, defended Court, saying she should be celebrated for her tennis achievements.
“Whatever people may think about Margaret Court’s views about gay marriage… she is one of the all time greats and the Margaret Court Arena celebrates Margaret Court the tennis player,” said the Prime Minister.
“She’s one of the greatest greats of tennis and that’s why the arena is named after her.”
Court has been called out by fellow tennis icon Martina Navratilova, who said the comments had gone “too far”.
Australian player Casey Dellacqua also tweeted, saying “Margaret. Enough is enough.”
Court and Navratilova very publicly fell out over the issue previously.
In 2011, Court sparked controversy when she said that gay people were “aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take.”
This drew ire from her fellow tennis legends, with lesbian icon Martina Navratilova saying that Court had failed to “evolve” with the rest of society.
She was also roundly condemned by Billie Jean King, who won 39 grand slam titles.
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$170 million of government money earlier this year was allocated to the Australian public vote on same-sex marriage.
Same-sex couples are not allowed to marry in the country, even though polls have long shown that most of the public want to make it legal.
A clear majority of MPs and Senators are also in favour of same-sex marriage, with the balance shifting decisively in last year’s federal election.
After his narrow victory in July’s election, right-wing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledged to bring a public plebiscite as soon as possible.
But a national vote is not necessary to make same-sex marriage legal in the country, and efforts to bring one about have so far been rejected.