Freedom of speech in the press – Vickie Janson
The Australian Press Council has considered complaints from Jim Culbertson and Simon Berry about an opinion article, Priority is to protect marriage, in The Herald Sun, Melbourne on 25 January 2012. It was written by former tennis champion Margaret Court who was also identified as “a pastor”.
Mrs Court argued that Australian society was losing touch with fundamental Christian values and on a steep moral decline, especially in relation to sexuality.
Amongst other things, she wrote: “Let me be clear. I believe that a person’s sexuality is a choice … In the Bible it is said that homosexuality is among sins that are works of the flesh. It is not something you are born with. My concern is that we are advocating to young people that it is OK to have these feelings.”
Complaints to the Council from several sources said this passage was inaccurate because modern scientific knowledge indicated that sexuality was not a matter of choice.
They also said it was offensive, incited homophobia and would aggravate problems of bullying and suicidal feelings amongst young gay people.
They considered that the newspaper should apologise for publishing the article.