Veteran reporter rejects Australia Day award

Veteran ABC journalist, Kerry O’Brien has turned down his Australia Day award in protest at tennis great Margaret Court receiving the nation’s highest honour.

Ms Court is an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights.

When news of her appointment as Companion (AC) of the Order of Australia leaked last week, Canberran transgender doctor, Clara Tuck Meng Soo handed back her own award in protest, prompting a handful of other recipients to now do the same.

“The decision to award Australia’s highest (civilian) honour to Margaret Court may serve to erode the hard-fought gains made over decades in reducing the impact of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ+ community – discrimination that has caused immense pain to untold people and destroyed lives,” Mr O’Brien told the awards council in an email viewed by Australian Associated Press.

“Margaret Court was a great tennis player who thrilled most Australians in her tennis years including me, but her hurtful and divisive criticisms relating to the fundamental rights of the LGBTQ+ community are clearly repugnant to many Australians,” he wrote.

“I believe the decision to present her with this award was deeply insensitive and must undermine community respect for awards that were created to celebrate a true spirit of community not divide it.”

“But there has to be something fundamentally wrong with a system that can produce such a deeply insensitive and divisive decision.”

Mr O’Brien’s was to receive his award for distinguished service to broadcast media and journalism.