The attempt to change the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) Constitution has been plagued by infighting and accusations the process lacks transparency.

Under the proposed constitution, the Board of Directors will be increased from eight to nine. Five of the nine will be elected by members while the remaining four will be appointed by a majority of elected directors. This could lead to an instance where just three elected directors create a super majority on the Board.

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Albert Kruger, CEO of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras stated that “the proposal to appoint 5/9 Board Directors was raised as we have a legal duty to ensure the Board has the right balance of skills, experience, and knowledge to govern Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.”

‘Wildly Undemocratic’

Charlie Murphy, a member of the Board of Directors, believes that this is “wildly undemocratic.”

“Reducing the board from having eight members who are elected, to five with four potential board members that are appointed, is absurd. It’s not how a democratic organisation should run. All of those four members would get a vote on [the] Board. It’s essentially increasing a majority’s ability to win a vote on a board by four.”

Wei Thai-Haynes, a candidate for the Board of Directors, concurs, saying, “All the directors should be elected and those elections should be as open, free, and transparent as possible.”

Facebook Group Shut Down

The division has not been solely about the content of the proposed constitution. Accusations of bullying were made on the SGLMG Constitution Review Forum on Facebook, leading to the group’s administrator shutting down the forum.

When contacted by the Star Observer, no one on the committee has been willing to speak on the record, citing that they all signed non-disclosure agreements(NDAs).

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When asked, Kruger admitted, “Constitution Review committee members did sign NDAs and Terms of Reference documents on appointment to the committee, as is standard across all committees formed by SGLMG.”

According to Kruger, the Mardi Gras Organization has been “proactive in ensuring that the entire review process has been open and transparent – of particular focus is that the constitution is developed with consideration given to community feedback at each stage.”

“Work is still being done on the constitution and thus we are still in the early stages of this review process, so there are plenty of opportunities for members to have their say on the proposed changes.”

A vote on the new SGLMG Constitution was originally set for December 1, World AIDS Day, but was moved to January 29 after public criticism.  Following publication of this story, Star Observer was contacted by Mardi Gras and was informed that the vote would now take place on a date to be confirmed after the festival.

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