Mardi Gras memberships on hold after discovery of ‘false’ applications
All new applications for membership to Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (SGLMG) have been placed on hold following the discovery of a number of fake applications made during the period August 1-8.
On August 8 the Board resolved not to approve any new applications for membership made after July 31 until the applicants’ bona fides could be confirmed.
As part of its due diligence process, SGLMG monitors and assesses the bona fides of people applying for new membership. Management puts forward a list of membership applicants to the Board and the Board is required under the Constitution to accept, reject or refer the application back for further clarification, (if it appears suspicious).
Mardi Gras has confirmed that a number of new applicants were ‘highly dubious” and in some cases “clearly false applications”.
In a written message sent to prospective members, SGLMG said: “Examples of results included multiple applications with the same and false phone numbers, names that did not belong to real people and applications with the same dates of birth. There were also instances of significant multiple applications with the same IP address, paid by the same credit card number with false contact details supplied. In contacting a sample of other applicants it was discovered that phone numbers and email addresses were false and there were instances of applicants who did not consent or know they had applied for membership.”
After advice from the Board’s audit and risk committee, the Returning Officer was advised further clarification needed to be applied to confirm the identities of new applicants. However, as there was no practical way of establishing the authenticity of every applicant within the time available, the decision was made to put all new memberships on hold.
In the message sent to applicants, the Returning Officer advised Mardi Gras would attempt to contact every applicant to establish whether their application was real. However even if the applicant is found to be genuine, it is not possible to vote in the election of directors or business transacted at the AGM due to the constitutional requirement that the Board cannot approve any new application for membership within 14 days of the AGM – which is scheduled to take place on August 23.
Mardi Gras notified applicants affected by the hold today.
Applicants whose bona fides prove to be real will be offered a refund or can wait for the Returning Officer to approve their membership at a later date.
Many members of the LGBT community have taken to Facebook to express their concern at the move by the Board, which they say unfairly favours existing board members and penalises new candidates.
Traditionally existing board members would rely on their community contacts for votes, while new candidates would be forced to galvanise the community and recruit new members to have any chance of success in achieving a spot on the board.
New Mardi Gras Board candidate James ‘Breko’ Brechney, radio host at OXLive and founder of the DIY rainbow movement, described the move as really disappointing.
“One of the platform I’m running on is inclusivity in the community,” Breko told GNN. “And a number of people have joined Mardi Gras for first time to support me and now they are being contacted and asked do they want a refund? It’s not a good look.”
One new member Kate Iselin, who had been contacted by Mardi Gras to say her application was on hold, told GNN: “It's pretty disappointing, because one of the issues the LGBT community at large has had with Mardi Gras is that it is not an inclusive event. It's really unfortunate that when someone does put in the hours to try to engage the community, they get roadblocks like this thrown at them.”
Applications for Mardi Gras closed on August 8. Most candidates did a push to new members prior to this period.
Of the existing Board, six members will be returning to compete for their current position.
Image: Mardi Gras kaleidoscope let your colours burst.