The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Annual General Meeting was finally held Saturday, January 29, after repeated delays.

However, none of the original motions were debated, in a vote marked by technical problems.

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Procedural Motions End Debate

At the beginning of the AGM, a procedural motion was raised by 78ers Diane Minnis and Ken Davis, co-chairs of the group First Mardi Gras, that “motions 1-5 not be heard.” This motion passed with 67% of the vote, showing that over 2/3 of the membership were against censuring Pride In Protest. 

As soon as the results were announced, Kyle Olsen and Troy Murphy, proposers of motions 1-5, called a second procedural motion requesting that “motions 6-14 not be heard.”

This second procedural motion passed by just 42 votes or 52%. As a result, motions 6-14 could not be heard or debated.

This included motions supporting sex-workers, condemning the Religious Discrimination Bill, and the treatment of asylum seekers, as well as Motion 10, which affirmed transition leave being “a right for any trans worker in any industry.”

According to Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) member and former board member, Charlie Murphy, the first procedural motion was “put up on the basis that it sets a very bad precedent for the democracy of the organisation to hear the motions.

“I think Kyle and Troy putting forward the second procedural was about a sense of retaliation. In that, they did not want the Pride In Protest motions to be put up because they couldn’t get their anti-democratic stuff up.”

According to Troy Murphy, “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the luxury of time to consider each of their motions separately, we were unable to participate in the election due to Vero Votings technical difficulties, whilst holding a significant number of proxies. We first called for the meeting to be halted via every chat platform available to us during the AGM, however, these calls were not observed. Our only option to halt the meeting was to put in place a procedural motion to stop all remaining motions including those not put forward by Pride In Protest so the system could be fixed so everyone’s vote could be counted.

“We would have preferred that the membership have the opportunity to vote on all individual motions, especially the Trans Leave motion, of which we would have supported.

“However, the decision to not have our motions heard unfortunately spectacularly backfired on Pride In Protest as in turn the membership decided not to hear theirs.”

Charlie Muphy said, “It was upsetting that we couldn’t have the transition leave [motion] heard because I didn’t see anyone publish a position against it and the Board supported it as well. But that’s how the AGM played out.” 

Kym Chapple, deputy mayor of Randwick Council, was disappointed with the passing of the second procedural motion. She tweeted, “the first Mardi Gras was a protest and now you’re not even debating vaguely contentious motions at an AGM? Cool shit guys.”

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Questions on PM Invitation, Constitution Status, and Name Change

Before voting commenced, SGLMG CEO, Albert Kruger answered members’ questions.

To a question regarding Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s invitation to the Parade, Kruger responded, “Mardi Gras does not send out a formal invite to the Prime Minister. That is extended through our partners through Destination NSW. They extend those invites through to the dignitaries they would like to attend. So that is not a Mardi Gras invite at all. I hope that answers the question.”

During the Q&A section of the AGM, Co-Chair Jesse Matheson fielded questions from the membership. 

To a question regarding changing the name of Mardi Gras, he said, “The board has shown support or desire to continue to explore potentially changing the name.”

He continued, “At this point, we don’t really have a timeline to put forward or any sort of time to report to the members. I think with the constitution change; with the name change. These projects show that we are interested in exploring these questions about Mardi Gras and of course consulting with our membership about what they think about that.”

With regard to the status of the constitutional review, Matheson said, “The constitution review committee, as we stated in our report, the board and the committee are going to come back together after Season to discuss next steps and the [appropriate] timing for a general meeting.

“So at this point, we’ll get through Season and we’ll come together after Season to discuss next steps and of course, we will communicate that with the membership.”

SGLMG CEO Albert Kruger was asked for comment on the AGM.

Despite the original motions not being heard, a spokesperson for SGLMG issued the following statement:

“We want to assure the members that we have listened, and will continue to listen, and that we consider the motions from today’s meeting as conversation starters.

“We will now work to find opportunities throughout the year where the members can meet, either in person or online, to participate in an open dialogue in a safe space about issues impacting our LGBTQIA+ communities that are important to us.”

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