AusPATH Statement on Margaret Court as Companion of the Order of Australia
The Australian Professional Association for Trans Health (AusPATH) was established in 2009 and is Australia’s peak body for professionals involved in the health, rights and well-being of all trans people, including those who are gender diverse and non-binary. The AusPATH membership comprises approximately 250 experienced professionals working across Australia.
We express our dismay at the decision to elevate Mrs Margaret Court to a Companion of the Order of Australia at the forthcoming “Australia Day” Honours list 2021 and have written to His Excellency Governor General the Honourable David Hurley seeking a reconsideration of this decision.
We accept that Mrs Margaret Court has made outstanding achievements in the field of tennis and this was recognised in 2007 when she was bestowed an Officer of the Order of Australia. In recent years, there has been widespread community disquiet over the negative comments that Mrs Margaret Court has made about people in the LGBTI+ community and even within the tennis world, this has caused negative sentiment towards her.
Mrs Margaret Court asserts that she has a right to freedom of speech. However, what we are concerned about here is not freedom of speech but that Mrs Margaret Court has used her position as a public figure to disseminate her hurtful comments about the LGBTI+ community. We ask whether it is acceptable to the Australian community that such actions by a public figure should be condoned or encouraged, or even rewarded as seems to be the case here.
Mrs Margaret Court further asserts that her actions and beliefs are only based on the teachings of the Bible and that she is being persecuted for doing so. We say that careful perusal of the Bible will show that Mrs Margaret Court is extremely selective about the sections of the Bible that she wishes to use, and those she chooses not to use in order to justify her own beliefs. She also makes inferences about Biblical teachings to make pronouncements that have no Biblical basis.
What do parents say to their trans child when someone who has said “they are influenced by the devil” is honoured by Australia? How do lesbian parents or even single mothers feel when they read that Mrs Margaret Court has attacked them for “depriving their child of a father”?
Ultimately, someone who is elevated to the highest civilian honour in Australia, namely a Companion of the Order of Australia is someone who has not only reached the highest achievements in their field of endeavour but who is also considered an exemplary role model by the rest of Australian community.
The question for us all as Australians is whether someone who has made many derogatory and hurtful comments about the LGBTI+ community publicly should be regarded as someone who is an exemplary role model by the Australian community.
We believe that Mrs Margaret Court would not be accepted as a role model by the majority of the Australian community and that the Council for the Order of Australia has made an error. We ask that the Council for the Order of Australia reconsider their decision to elevate Mrs Margaret Court to a Companion of the Order of Australia.
We support and honour the decision of AusPATH Board Member Dr Clara Tuck Meng Soo who relinquished her own Order of Australia Medal in protest.
We also encourage all Australians consider writing to express their disappointment at the elevation of Mrs Margaret Court by writing to the Governor General HERE.
AusPATH Board of Directors
24 January 2021