Former tennis champion Margaret Court has claimed that legalising equal marriage will lead to the end of Christmas in Australia.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner, a devout Christian and longtime opponent LGBT equality, has stepped up her rhetoric against marriage equality as Australians begin to cast their ballots in a non-binding postal vote on the issue.

As it happens, Court is convinced that Christmas itself is not safe from the terrifying repercussions of simply letting gay people marry the person they love.

“We already have 36,000 gay couples in this nation, that’s not a lot of people when you think about the 25 million,” she The West Australian.

“They already have civil union. They want marriage because they want to destroy it.

“It’s not about marriage. It will affect Christian schools, it will affect freedom of speech.

“There will be no Mother’s Day, there will be no Father’s Day, there will be no Easter, there will be no Christmas.”

Of course, here in the UK we look back with mournful nostalgia at Christmas 2012; the last to occur on these shores before legislation to introduce same-sex marriage was passed in July 2013.

Court’s opposition to marriage equality has already been criticised by several top tennis players, including Britain’s Andy Murray, who made his own thoughts clear at the French Open in June.

Gay people campaign for marriage equality in Australia. They might as well just shoot Santa in the head and be done with it.

“I don’t see why anyone has a problem with two people who love each other getting married,” the tw0-time Wimbledon champion told reporters, adding that he believed a lot of his fellow players  “would be pretty offended” by the remarks.

Australia’s vote on the issue of marriage equality has already divided the country’s national rugby team, as well as the country as a whole.

Just hours after Israel Folau revealed his opposition to same-sex marriage on Twitter last week, his teammate David Pocock, pointedly tweeted his intention to vote ‘Yes’ in the upcoming vote,  which will see registered voters aged 18 and over answer the question ‘Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?’

The result of the vote is set to be announced on November 15 – just in time to scupper Christmas for everyone.

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