Former tennis champion Margaret Court's recent opprobrium towards gays and lesbians during an interview with The West Australian has prompted calls to inundate the Australian Open with rainbows – a sign of solidarity against homophobia.
Court's statements are not unique. Irrespective of her position on marriage equality, her comments reflect broader social prejudices shared by many that believe that homosexuality is an affliction or lifestyle choice that can (and should) be "cured" using reparative therapies.
So why then protest about Margaret Court?
Sport occupies a privileged space in our national culture. When our revered athletes speak, we usually listen.
Is it any wonder then, that when sporting greats such as Court forcefully remind us of the homophobia that continues to exist, we need to take notice?
If anything, this debate should serve as a warning that homophobia remains a systemic problem in our communities. Whether it comes from a public figure, or a friend or family member, we must challenge it wherever it manifests.
Tennis Australia made a commendable statement last week stating unequivocally that discrimination against a person on the basis of their sexual orientation is unacceptable.
Whether or not you think sports should be a place of politics, every person has the right to live with dignity and respect.
It is easy to think that being openly gay is no longer a problem in Australia. However, if we take a closer look, it is not difficult to find the gay elder who is coerced into hiding his relationship to access aged care; or the young person, who is teased in the playground for not being "feminine" or "masculine" enough.
In a recent consultation on discrimination faced by sexual and gender minorities, the Australian Human Rights Commission expressed concern that about 80 per cent of students felt that their school was either homophobic, or did not actively seek to address homophobic bullying. Of the young people interviewed, more than 30 per cent recounted some kind of suicidal ideation or had attempted suicide because of their sexual feelings.
For children living in same-sex families, this homophobic rhetoric also undermines the love and care that many thousands of same-sex couples selflessly provide.
Even in the broader political sphere, Australia still lacks federal anti-discrimination laws that proscribe discrimination on the basis of sex, sexuality and gender diversity. Non-heterosexual couples are still denied equality before the law when it comes to full relationship recognition.
So as the rainbows adorn the various arenas at the Australian Open in the coming days, let us make sure that we remind ourselves that everyone is entitled to a fair go, regardless of who they love.