Australian tennis legend Margaret Court has been dumped from her role as Cottesloe Tennis Club vice-patron this week, with the septuagenarian’s opposition to gay marriage being raised as a justification for her dismissal. Court, who was widely criticised earlier this year after coming out publicly in support of traditional marriage, has pursued a role as a minister within the Pentecostal Church following her retirement from tennis.
Following the decision, Court has explained how the move was a politically motivated attempt to silence her for holding conservative views. “It’s a sad day for our nation… Ian Thorpe can stand for the other side and there’s no criticism but when we stand for our Christian beliefs or God’s side I feel sporting people are very intimidated, they’re put down”, she said.
Court’s dismissal follows similar stories of intimidation and bigotry from the ‘Yes’ campaign, with a group of Brisbane church attendees harassed by ‘Yes’ campaigners earlier this month, whilst a Melbourne book store also demonstrated a similar level of maturity in explaining via social media that ‘No’ voters would be unwelcome to visit the store. Interestingly, despite the ‘Yes’ campaign repeatedly warning of the potential for the plebiscite to expose people to hatred, these sentiments have clearly only come from one particular side of the debate since the plebiscite was announced.
With the outcome of Australia’s gay marriage plebiscite not due to be announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics until November, it seems likely that similar stories will continue to emerge over the coming weeks. Remember though — tolerance, diversity, and progress. It is the current year after all.