An Australian doctor is handing back her Order of Australia Medal in protest against controversial tennis legend Margaret Court.
Court is set to be promoted to a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), one honour higher than her current Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and the highest in the country.
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Melbourne journalist Justin Smith revealed the news on Friday, saying: “Court’s extreme views on same-sex and trandgender people have been well reported.
“I think they’ve been an international embarrassment and belong in a very different era.”
Following the news, Canberra doctor Clara Tuck Meng Soo has decided to relinquish her Order of Australia Medal.
Dr Soo is a transgender woman and LGBTIQ advocate who received the medal in 2016.
However, the doctor says she does not want to have any association whatsoever with Court - whose controversial views on the LGBTI community and same-sex marriage have caused outrage in the past.
“I therefore have both professional experience as well as lived experience of the communities that Mrs Margaret Court makes these derogatory and hurtful remarks about,” she wrote.
“Given the message that the Council for the Order of Australia is sending by giving this promotion to Mrs Margaret Court, I would like to return my OAM.
“I do not want to be seen as supporting the values that the Council for the Order of Australia seem to be supporting with this promotion of Mrs Margaret Court.”
LGBTIQ spokesperson for lobby group Just Equal, Ivan Hinton-Teoh says the decision to award Court the medal should be overturned.
“We urge the Council of the Order of Australia to reconsider its decision,” Mr Hinton-Teoh said.
“Margaret Court’s primary contribution to Australian society since being awarded an AO for her historic tennis achievements has been to marginalise and malign LGBTIQ Australians. Either the council was not aware of the damage and division she has actively contributed to, or they are and they are supporting it.
“Margaret Court’s elevation, above her many previous awards, must sit uncomfortably with many people who have exemplified the best of Australian values throughout their lives and sought to advance all Australians.
“If the council does not review this decision there will be many distinguished Australians reconsidering their association with an awards system that further elevates the divisive efforts of Margaret Court.”
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The latest drama follows comments from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who also hit out at the decision to honour Court.
Mr Andrews described Court’s views as “hateful” and said he was “sick of talking about that person every summer”.
“But I don’t give out those gongs, that's not a matter for me, that's for others,” Andrews said.
“You might want to speak to them about why they think those views, which are disgraceful, hurtful and cost lives, should be honoured.”
The AC is given to Aussies for “eminent achievement and merit of the highest degree in service to Australia or to humanity at large”.
Court won 24 grand slam singles titles across her illustrious tennis career and became the first female Australian player to win Wimbledon in 1963.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said compilation of the Honours List is an independent process.
“This is a completely independent set of processes. It is an announcement that will be announced on that day,” he said.
“It is a system that recognises the full spectrum of individuals across this country. I can't comment on that.”
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said Court has already been awarded for her tennis prowess.
"It's clear for everyone to see that making her a Companion of the Order of Australia has nothing to do with tennis," he tweeted.
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