Margaret Court backs anti-gay country

Margaret Court is under fire again after it was revealed she set up a consulate in Perth for an African regime that persecutes gays.

The tennis great, who has previously stirred controversy with her views on same-sex marriage, set up a consulate for the east African Republic of Burundi.

Court and her husband Barry used their Perth-based Pentecostal church to establish the consulate with the approval of the Federal Government, according to Nine Newspapers.

The UN has accused the Burundi government of human rights abuses, including executions, arbitrary arrests, torture and sexual violence.

Margaret Court and husband Barry. Picture: AAP
Margaret Court and husband Barry. Picture: AAP

Video shows Court praying for the "bridging of these two nations" at the consulate's opening in Perth last year, which was attended by Burundi's first lady Denise Bucumi Nkurunziza.

Mr Court defended their role in the consulate despite Burundi's dark history.

"The place has changed a lot," Mr Court said.

"The economy is blossoming, and we can really help the people there. I'm quite enthusiastic about its future."

The tennis legend has been the subject of worldwide criticism following initial comments in 2017 that she would boycott Qantas as a protest against the airline's support for same-sex marriage.

Court penned an open letter to a newspaper in which she criticised Qantas for campaigning for same-sex marriage, writing: "Your statement leaves me no option but to use other airlines (where) possible for my extensive travelling."

Barry says Burundi “has changed a lot”. Picture: Supplied
Barry says Burundi “has changed a lot”. Picture: Supplied

That prompted calls for her name to be removed from the arena at Melbourne Park.

She then defended her stance with follow-up comments including that the Bible dictated that marriage was between a man and a woman and "I'm just saying what God says".

Survivors and Victims of the Burundi Dictatorship spokesman Pacifique Ndayisaba slammed the opening of the consulate.

Mr Ndayisaba says Burundi's armed forces killed his father and tortured him and his brother.

"It is very concerning that a famous Australian lady would host and support a regime which kills people, discriminates against LGBTI people, and uses rape as a weapon," he said.

A DFAT spokesperson told Nine Newspapers the consulate has jurisdiction in Western Australia only, and all costs are the responsibility of Burundi.

"This is not a diplomatic appointment," the spokesperson said.


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