The Margaret Court Arena was meant to be a monument to sporting greatness.
Margaret Court has turned it into a monument to homophobia.
Should we rename the Margaret Court Arena because she has shown herself to be a homophobe? There are precedents, here and abroad, for repudiating old prejudices by renaming public structures.
The UK city of Bristol, built on the slave trade, is full of streets and buildings named for slave traders and slave-owning tobacco barons. The owners renamed the city’s famous Colston Hall in 2020, saying they did not ‘want an association’ with slave trader Edward Colston.
Yale University, along with many other US institutions, is renaming buildings commemorating slavery advocates.
Here in Australia a sports stand in Toowoomba was renamed, not because the person it honoured was a racist, but because his common nickname most certainly was: Nigger Brown.
Melbourne Universities are likewise renaming buildings commemorating distinguished racist, homophobic professors, who argued for the segregation and sterilisation of LGBTI and blacks.
Accusations of ‘erasing history’ have been answered everywhere by the erection of plaques explaining the change, and the retention of statues or portraits of those previously honoured. This could easily be done at the Tennis Centre: Courts bust is already there.
None of these changes have been quick or easy or free from controversy: it’s a long and ongoing battle to get Australia to agree that it is no longer appropriate to honour and celebrate racism. It’s inappropriate to honour and celebrate homophobia, too.
Just as buildings named for racists (no matter how eminent) show a lack of respect for non-whites, buildings named for homophobes show disrespect for LGBTI people and shore up our continuing second-class status.
For the sake of inclusion, equality and harmony, Margaret Courts name must come down.