THE newest members of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras will continue to be denied a vote at the upcoming board elections, the organisation has today confirmed.

The decision comes after a late night meeting held by the organisation yesterday, which looked to find a way for all members to be given a vote.

However, in an email to members this morning, Mardi Gras said the annual general meeting (AGM) and elections would go ahead as planned and up to 150 new members would not be allowed to take part.

“The board and Returning Officer explored all avenues regarding cancelling or postponing the AGM in order to reopen membership applications, and it is not possible under our constitution or the Corporations Act to do so,” the statement said.

Mardi Gras senior marketing manager James Rongen-Hall told the Star Observer: “Under the constitution no membership applications can be approved by the board within 14 days of an AGM, so given the AGM is proceeding on 23 August, applicants after 31 July will not be able to vote.

“The process of validation of these new applicants will proceed, and if found to be valid they will be approved by the board when membership applications reopen after the AGM.”

On Monday, Mardi Gras informed members a “significantly high number of dubious, and in some cases, clearly false applications” for membership had been made in the run up to this year’s board elections.

The organisation committed to allowing genuine applications to proceed – but not until after the AGM.

This had the effect of denying these newest members a vote, despite them applying before the deadline for applications.

The move led to an outcry by some who claimed the ruling would bolster the chances of current board members being re-elected as newer members are often encouraged to sign up by outside candidates.

Talking to the Star Observer yesterday, former Mardi Gras treasurer Philip Kershaw, who is not standing for election, said the integrity of the election process had been lost.

“All candidates were aware of the deadline of last Friday [8 August] and worked to that deadline,” he said.

“Changing the rules retrospectively is not good corporate governance.

“The denial of these applicants potentially favours the incumbents and those who have been board associates because they have had opportunity to sign up friends, family and supporters earlier than other candidates,”

Kershaw said that while false membership applications should be thrown out, it was “not fair” to those who had invested time and money to try and become Mardi Gras members.

© Star Observer 2021 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.