Dan Andrews says Margaret Court's 'disgraceful' views are not worthy of an Australia Day honour

Tennis great Margaret Court is expected to be named in Tuesday's Australia Day honours list, a decision that has already sparked controversy.

Former Australian Open champion Margaret Court watches play on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Former Australian Open champion Margaret Court. Source: AP

Controversial tennis great Margaret Court says she is "blessed" to receive a second Australia Day honour and has not seen any backlash to her award, as several Labor leaders criticise the move.

"I wasn't really looking to it, so, I'm blessed," she told reporters on Friday.

"'I haven't seen any (backlash), and I'll just stay around the tennis side this time and that's what I'm receiving it for and it's a great honour and I appreciate it.'

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has criticised the decision to make Ms Court a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia, saying her “disgraceful and hurtful” views should not be honoured.

Ms Court has been criticised in recent years for her comments opposing homosexuality and gay marriage.

She has already been named an Officer of the Order of Australia in the 2007 honours list, and is set to receive the higher honour on Tuesday.

Mr Andrews said he did not believe she should be honoured.

“I don’t give out those gongs; that’s not a matter for me. You might want to speak to them about why they think those views which are disgraceful, hurtful and cost lives should be honoured,” he told reporters on Friday.

“I’m not going to stand here for politeness’s sake and not live my values and my values say those attitudes, and the position of my government and I think the vast majority of Victorians - they do not support that kind of hateful approach.”

The names of those set to be granted an Australia Day honour is customarily released to the media under embargo days in advance, but is not published until 26 January.

However, news of Ms Court’s honour was leaked on social media on Friday by a Melbourne broadcaster who said he had received the information from elsewhere.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had no official knowledge of the matter.

"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 things," he said.

"This is a completely independent separate process."

But Opposition leader Anthony Albanese was critical of the move.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan, from Ms Court's home state, was also among leaders to criticise the move, saying he does not share her views, "in particular around gay and lesbian people". 

"I think extra Order of Australia awards should go to unsung heroes across the country and there's a great many of them," he said. 

Ms Court, who holds the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, has been the subject of controversy in recent years over her views on the LGBTQI community.

In 2013 she wrote a letter to a newspaper decrying the birth of Australian tennis player Casey Dellacqua's child in a same-sex relationship.

'Personally, I have nothing against Casey Dellacqua or her "partner",” she wrote.

“It is with sadness that I see this baby has seemingly been deprived of his father.”

In 2017, she said she would boycott Qantas for their support of same-sex marriage.

There were also calls in 2018 for an arena named after her to be renamed. 

She has also condemned trans athletes and trans people at the Pentecostal church where she is a minister.

"You know, even that LGBT in the schools, it's the devil, it's not of God," she said in a more recent sermon.

Mr Andrews - who refused to speak Ms Court’s name - said he was “quite sick of talking about this person” every summer.

"The vast majority of Victorians, they do not support that kind of hateful approach. They want to see us unified, they want to see us respected and respectful and they want to see people able to live safely. No one has the right to take that away from anybody else," he says.

"And these views do that. They absolutely do. And this will come as no surprise to her, or to anyone else. It shouldn't. This has been my view, every day of my public life," he says.

4 min read
Published 22 January 2021 at 11:02am
By Rashida Yosufzai
Source: SBS