Melbourne, Jan 29 (ANI): Margaret Court has sparked fury among gay and equal rights activists for saying that homosexuality is often the result of sexual abuse.
The 69-year-old tennis legend, who is a pastor, believes what the bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Amid a growing backlash over her opposition to same-sex marriage, the three-time Wimbledon champion told The Sunday Mail "many, many" gay and lesbian people she knew of had "been abused" and this had led to their sexual orientation.
Court, a senior minister at Perth's Victory Life Centre, has already sparked fury for comments including that the push for gay marriage was trying "to legitimise what God calls abominable sexual practices".
Mental health advocate Chris Tanti accused her of "spreading misery" and putting young gay people at risk of suicide with what he called her anti-gay comments, amid calls for her name to be removed from centre court at Melbourne Park.
She said she felt victimised and became the target of a relentless hate campaign for airing her views on gay marriage.
"We get them homosexuals in at church and you'll find that many, many of them have been abused," the Courier mail quoted her as saying.
When asked if she felt such abuse led people to homosexuality, Court said "yes. You look at a lot of them, that's happened."
Peter Rosengren, editor of the Catholic Church's The Record newspaper, batted away her claims, saying he had "never heard of any scientific study" linking abuse and homosexuality, and that "everyone has to be respected".
"The word of God is our TV guide to life. It's not the fear book, it's a love book and it tells us how to live our lives," Court said.
"I would have won six Wimbledons not three . . . if I'd known what I know now from the scriptures, on the area of the mind," she said.
Court also said she did not regret speaking out against same-sex marriage.
"I say what God says and that's why I've spoken out.
"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
"I have a right as a minister to say that. You look at the decline in the world today. I think it's so important for values and morals and righteousness to come forth like never before," she added. (ANI)
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