GP hands back Order of Australia Medal

Paul Hayes

25/01/2021 12:38:41 PM

Dr Clara Tuck Meng Soo made the decision in protest of Margaret Court’s 2021 Australia Day honour.

Dr Clara Tuck Meng Soo
Dr Soo believes Margaret Court’s comments promote discrimination and prejudice against the LGBTIQ+ community.

Canberra-based GP Dr Clara Tuck Meng Soo has returned the Medal of the Order of Australia she was awarded in 2016 for services to the community as a medical practitioner.
She made the decision after learning former tennis champion Margaret Court will this year be promoted to a Companion of the Order of Australia, the country’s highest civilian honour. She was named an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2007.
News of Ms Court’s new honour has caused controversy due to her history of opposition to same-sex marriage, homosexuality and transgender people.
‘Someone elevated to the highest civilian honour in Australia should not only have reached the pinnacle of achievements in their field of endeavour – tennis or otherwise – but should also be considered a role model by the rest of the Australian community,’ Dr Soo wrote in the Nine newspapers.
‘I do not believe someone who has made derogatory and hurtful comments about the LGBTIQ+ community publicly would be regarded as such a role model.
‘Upon seeing this news, I contacted the office of the Governor-General to give notice that I would be returning my medal as a protest against Court’s award.’
Ms Court, who is a Pentecostal minister, said she is ‘blessed’ to receive a second Australia Day honour. She has also defended her right to express her views on same-sex marriage and the LGBTIQ+ community.
‘I teach the Bible, what God says in the Bible, and I think that is my right and my privilege to be able to bring that forth,’ she said.
‘I’m not going to change my opinions and views, and I think it’s very important for freedom of speech that we can say our beliefs.’
Dr Soo wrote that ‘by opposing [Ms Court’s] elevation, I am not denying her right to freedom of speech’.
‘I am only concerned that she has used her position as a public figure to disseminate her harmful comments,’ she wrote.
‘As someone who has lived as a gay man and now as a transgender woman, I am aware of just how deeply hurtful Court’s outbursts can be to my community.
‘By giving this promotion to her now, the Council [for the Order of Australia] is sending a strong signal that discrimination and prejudice are not only tolerated but honoured in our Australian community.’
Dr Soo has a long history of working closely with the gay, lesbian and transgender communities, patients with drug dependencies, refugees and recent migrants, patients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and patients living with HIV/AIDS.
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Dr Ian Relf   26/01/2021 8:22:47 AM

IF she knew what all the thousands of recipients thought about many issues she would be horrified. Many are living examples of sexism and racism in their own lives. The medal however is given from Australian people not a misguided few.

Dr David James Maconochie   26/01/2021 9:32:17 AM

It is difficult when people with whom we disagree on something fundamental nevertheless do good in their own way, and are worthy of recognition. There is a fundamental principle of animal training and in bringing up children, that we should reward behaviour that we approve of and ignore that which we do not. On a different level, if we seek to modify someone's view point, we are more likely to do so by first listening, acknowledging the areas where we agree, and only then ask that they consider an alternative. Direct confrontation, and in this case, telling someone that they are not a fit recipient of recognition might be personally gratifying, but will only harden their position.

For what it is worth, I do not share Margaret Court's sensibilities over sexual orientation, but if she has worked for the public good nevertheless, then I believe that it is right that this work be publicly acknowledged.

Dr Gary Ronald Franks   26/01/2021 12:23:44 PM

Dr Soo has the right to hand back her Medal of the Order of Australia and even if I and other disagree we need to respect her opinion .That same respect needs to be offered to those who decided to elevate Margaret Courts award and also respect the individual awarded such .The award is given for" what she has done , not for her thinking" as Alan Jones rightly points out. I hope those critics of her thinking and worldview are doing as much as she does through her charity to help those in need in the community in which she works.If not then I suggest discover what she does besides her ongoing work and dedication to tennis Australia and judge her actions .not just her thinking .