Tennis champions Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova have slammed anti-gay comments by Australian tennis legend Margaret Court, who last week condemned the push for marriage equality, saying she wanted to “protect families”.
“Seems to me a l
ot of people have evolved as has the Bible, unfortunately Margaret Court has not,” Navratilova told TennisChannel.com
“Her myopic view is truly frightening as well as damaging to the thousands of children already living in same gender families.”
Court, who is the founder and senior pastor at Victory Life Church in Perth, has urged Australians to make a stand against same-sex marriage, saying no human law could ever change God’s divine laws.
“Politically correct education has masterfully escorted homosexuality out from behind closed doors, into the community openly and now is aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take,” she told The West Australian last week.
Court said society was best served by strong family units that comprised a mum, dad and children and that there was no reason to put forward “alternative, unhealthy, unnatural unions” as a substitute. said.
“To dismantle this sole definition of marriage and try to legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices that include sodomy, reveals our ignorance as to the ills that come when society is forced to accept law that violates their very own God-given nature of what is right and what is wrong.”
Openly gay US tennis champion Billie Jean King said she disagreed with Court’s position.
“The more we talk openly about issues like gay marriage, the more we learn about each other,” King said.
“It is a blessing the people of Australia can live freely and express their own opinions because we need open dialogue to help us move forward.
“We have to commit to eliminating homophobia because everyone is entitled to the same rights, opportunities and protection.”
Court has had a history of anti-gay comments, accusing lesbians of ruining women’s tennis and calling Navratilova a bad example to young players.
In 2002 she said Damir Dokic’s concern about daughter Jelena being exposed to lesbians on the circuit was “understandable” and campaiged against Western Australian laws that gave gay couples equal legal rights as de facto couples.
“I have tried to talk to Margaret, but to say she’s completely close-minded on the issue is an understatement,” Navratilova said.
“Here is hoping Australia will be on the right side of history and human rights, and become yet another democracy granting equal rights to all her citizens.”
Court turned to Christianity in 1972, and has long claimed that homosexuality is a choice, reiterating her stance last week.
“The fact that the homosexual cry is, ‘We can’t help it as we were born this way’, as the cause behind their own personal choice is cause for concern,” she said.
“Every action begins with a thought. There is a choice to be made.”
Australian doubles great Rennae Stubbs, who came out publicly in 2006, said Court’s word carried an added sting for her.
“As a young Australian tennis player, I aspired to be like Margaret Court,” Stubbs said.
“This is why it has been very difficult to understand her words of hate directed towards homosexuals.
“It is unfortunate that someone with her stature has chosen to propagate discrimination and I disagree with her comments wholeheartedly.”