By Kyle Olsen and Troy Murphy

This Saturday, the members of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will vote on a number of motions relating to the behaviour of activist group Pride In Protest. You can view Motions 1-5 here. We have designed these to hold Pride In Protest accountable for the damage their behaviour has caused Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, its staff, board, volunteers and Parade participants.

For the past week, the Star Observer has published articles in relation to these motions. Although some of these articles may be well intentioned, unfortunately, none of them have addressed the extremely dangerous and unethical behaviour of Pride In Protest and their supporters.

This includes brazen breaches of board confidentiality, misusing confidential board information to support Pride In Protest candidates in the most recent Mardi Gras board elections, breaching security at the 2020 and 2021 Parade, attacking and defaming Mardi Gras board members and staff members on social media and purposefully spreading misinformation about Mardi Gras online.

You wouldn’t accept this behaviour in your own workplace and we shouldn’t accept it being done towards Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

The decision to put these motions to the members to hold Pride In Protest accountable for their actions is not about “right-wing” or “left-wing”. This discussion is not about debating the right to protest, how Pride In Protest members identify themselves or an “obsessive hatred” for Pride In Protest, as Pride In Protest would lead you to believe. It is about Integrity, Accountability and Respect which are core values of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras that Pride In Protest do not seem to share or, frankly, care about.

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THERE IS NO PRIDE IN ‘PRIDE IN PROTEST’

Pride In Protest is a self-identified political organisation which has admitted to wanting to demolish Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and as members of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and a community we cannot accept this.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras exists to produce the Parade and the annual Festival which we all know, love and benefit from. If Pride in Protest is successful in their agenda to remove all sponsors and forcibly exclude members of our LGBTIQ+ community from events because of who they work for or their political affiliation, there will be no Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

We will say goodbye to our internationally adored and respected Parade which has evolved over the decades to become a celebration of how far the LGBTQI+ movement has come and provides the largest platform for our community. We will no longer have a diverse festival that embraces and brings together the entirety of our vibrant rainbow community.

The activities and events that employ thousands of LGBTIQ+ artists, performers and industry workers will cease to exist. All of the bars, clubs, businesses and community organisations that rely on the Mardi Gras festival each year to operate and provide much needed safe spaces and culture will struggle and may even shut down.

At a time when so much of our community is only just hanging in there, including Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Pride In Protest are actively taking steps to attack Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and, by extension, their own community.

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IT IS TIME TO STAND AGAINST PRIDE IN PROTEST

Over the past few years, Pride In Protest have deliberately ignored issues of poor conduct in their ranks and have resorted to name-calling, bullying and online trolling to anyone who dares stand up to them. It raises questions of their true motives towards Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras should always be a place of inclusion and diversity for people and opinion. Above all, it should always be a place where its members and board only ever act in the best interest of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Because Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is worth fighting for! Perhaps one day Pride In Protest will agree to work with Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, but until then, we need to tell them that what they are doing is wrong and will no longer be tolerated.

Many people have weighed in on the motions being put forward at this year’s Annual General Meeting to hold Pride In Protest accountable for their actions, but few have fully discussed or addressed the substance of the motions.

Unfortunately, Pride In Protest has resorted to name-calling, bullying and online trolling to anyone who dares stand up to them. For full transparency, we have asked the Star Observer to publish our motions and the reasons for putting the motions to the members in full.

For more information including supporting evidence, you can read the explanatory memorandum here. We encourage all members to read the memorandum, ask questions, join the Annual General Meeting on Saturday, 29 January and support Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras!

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Motion 1 – This meeting requests that any motions proposed by members which are materially the same as those defeated at previous AGMs not be heard or voted on, or rested for period of 2-3 years.

Why should this action be adopted? Over the past three years, the membership has voted on and defeated motions relating to the Police, sponsors and political parties which are materially the same. This is unfair to the membership who have already made their decision and takes up significant time from questions and other matters.

 

Motion 2 – This meeting requests that the membership of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras condemns activist group Pride In Protest and its members for persistently and wilfully acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the Company by:

  1. Leaking confidential Board information during the latest Director Election and misusing this information to support their own candidates.
  2. Leaking the results of the 2021 Director Elections on social media ahead of the official result being confirmed by the Returning Officer.
  3. Attacking and defaming individual SGLMG board members, staff, volunteers and other SGLMG members on social media.
  4. Supporting and assisting with the disruption of the 2021 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade, including breaches of security and COVID-19 guidelines.
  5. Spreading damaging and harmful misinformation, including leaks, about Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras on social media, traditional media and during press conferences for personal and political gain.
  6. Damaging its relationships with partners, community partners and other stakeholders.

Why should this action be adopted? Pride in Protest has continually and wilfully acted in a manner prejudicial to the company while also trying to get its members onto the Board. Their disruptive behaviour has had a significant negative impact on the organisation and there is clear evidence to show they are not acting in the best interests of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras but are attempting to use the organisation for their own purposes.

 

Motion 3 – This meeting requests that the members of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras request that the Board of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras take legal action against Pride In Protest and CARR for misusing the Mardi Gras brand without authorisation for the “Mardi Gras March” event.

Why should this action be adopted? The brand of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has been built up over 43 years and is internationally recognised. The brand is also protected to ensure its integrity and so that it is not misused. By taking legal action, the Board will be protecting the brand and the integrity of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Pride in Protest have misused the Mardi Gras brand to support their own event without authorisation which also attacks Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

 

Motion 4 – This meeting requests that the Membership of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras recognise Pride In Protest and CARR and its members as an Organisation under 3.5 of the Constitution of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and be made an Associate Member, and in doing so:

  1. That the Board identify members of Pride In Protest and CARR who are also members of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and request that they be moved to the Associate Member category, or
  2. If those members identified do not consent to move to the Associate Members category, that the Board expel those members from the membership in accordance with Chapter XIX of the Constitution of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Why should this action be adopted? The Constitution of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras does not allow organisations to hold the status of full membership. Pride In Protest and CARR are self-identified political organisations acting as organised groups and with a leadership structure which are proactively signing up their members to be members of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. CARR is a business and has an ABN. Pride in Protest refers to directors Charlie Murphy, Alex Bouchet-Carr and Wei Thai-Haynes as “Pride in Protest board members” and refer to their actions as working as a collective within the membership, which is in contravention of Chapter XIX of the Constitution (Click here for Memorandum Evidence).

By supporting this motion, the membership will recognise that Pride in Protest and CARR are organisations attempting to stack the membership of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras to use Mardi Gras’ resources to advance the objectives of Pride in Protest and CARR, in contravention of the Constitution.

 

Motion 5 – This meeting requests that the Membership of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras condemns [name withheld by the Publication] for persistently and wilfully acting in a manner prejudicial to the interests of the Company during their time as a director, and request the Board expel them from the membership.

Why should this action be adopted? Being a Board member of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is one of the greatest responsibilities the membership can give to an individual. [name withheld by the Publication] aligns with Pride in Protest and has supported Pride in Protest’s actions to damage Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. [name withheld by the Publication] has leaked confidential information to Pride in Protest, has attacked their fellow board members and staff on social media and supported the breach of security which took place at the 2021 Parade. The membership should expect a high standard for board members and that they act always in the best interests of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

By supporting this motion, the members will hold [name withheld by the Publication] account and set a standard for other board members who do not act in the best interests of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Kyle Olsen is an Educator, Presenter and proud Mardi Gras Community Member.

Troy Murphy is the Former Art Director and Social Media Manager for Star Observer and DNA Magazine and proud Mardi Gras Community Member.

The Star Observer has reached out to parties involved in the proposed AGM motions and welcomes diverse viewpoints on this important discussion.

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