General Assembly of Members
LGBT Organization ‘Labrys’1 December 2007
A first in the history of Labrys General Meeting of Members took place in Bishkek on 1 December 2007. The groundbreaking event gathered thirty L, G, B, T people and their allies at the ‘Silk Road Lodge’ Hotel in the very centre of the capital city. Even though the participants of the meeting seemed to be coming from different backgrounds and social standings, they were all united in their willingness to help Labrys grow as an organization that empowers and protects the rights of the LGBT.After a few introductory speeches, the GMM took off with presentations of Labrys staff that was responsible for Labrys restructuring. Participants of the meeting were presented with general information on the organization’s aims and vision, history of establishment, successes and plans for future. Resulting documents and reports on restructuring done in the personnel, financial and administrative departments were also offered to the listeners. They were also provided with updates in the work of the Conflict Commission, which is responsible for analyzing and finding solutions for debt issues of some former Labrys staff.
A supplemented and reworked statute of the organization deserves special mention. Labrys in consultation with a well-known specialist on organizational development fully reconsidered the old charter and either augmented or deleted certain parts of it, bringing the document up to international and national best practices. Participants of the GMM were offered a comparative analysis of the two versions of the document for later voting on passing/rejection of the new one. Among the particular issues of the new statute were expanding Labrys from being an LBT organization to a broader LGBT one, introducing quotas for representatives of different communities, associated membership, number of Board members, sum and frequency of membership fees, and possibility of on-line voting.
Once the pre-mediated part of the meeting was over, it was time for Labrys to accept new members. Applications and introduction speeches were made in a voluntary manner, at the conclusion of which incumbent members of the organization accepted 16 new members. In all their speeches the newbies indicated their interest in the functioning and goals of Labrys, and expressed their desire to help the organization in achieving its goals in any way they can. A recurrent theme in the oaths made was that Labrys is not some abstract human rights organization, but one that is on the forefronts of LGBT struggle for acceptance. It is protecting and working for their benefit, the new members said, and they want to be a part of it. As of now there are 21 members with representation of 3 transgender men, 2 gay men and 16 lesbian and bisexual women.
Vision of Labrys in future – results of the discussion in working groups
With newly accepted members the GMM moved to discussing with them strategic points for Labrys as an organization in future. The main question the organization wanted to be clear with was the target group for working with in the year 2008 and onwards. With this aim in mind the participants were divided into two facilitated teams, which were to define the groups and the problems of which they found necessary to address. At the conclusion, the two teams presented their own visions. In general there seemed to be an agreement in viewing LGBT+WSW+MSM as the main group that Labrys should be working with. Within this bigger umbrella group special attention should be paid to socially vulnerable LGBT, WSW and MSM, the two teams concluded. Specifically, LGBT/WSW/MSM who are out of their families social networks, come from low-income families or earn low income themselves.Once the opinion of GMM participants was known, Labrys staff proceeded to presenting their vision of work to be done in 2008. Without ruining too much of the surprise, it was announced that Labrys would be opening an all new Community Centre for its clients, resume the Shelter project and continue with the Trans-component. The idea of the community centre was providing the LGBT communities with a safe place to interact and to learn. The shelter would, as previously, provide those LGBT persons in harsh and unexpected life situations with temporary shelter and support from social workers. Within the trans-component, it was reported, Labrys would, along with lobbying and advocating legislative changes in favour of trans-people, attempt importing a surgery specialist for local medics to learn from. This would significantly simplify the transition process for many trans-people and allow them to feel better about their bodies – the most basic of human rights and freedoms.
Voting on strategic documents
As the GMM neared its completion, there was only one last (but not the least!) thing for new members to do. Labrys needed their opinion on strategic documents that were elaborated during the restructuring phase of the organization’s development. These documents included human resources and financial policies of the organization. With a majority vote these documents were approved and are now currently being weaved into the structure of Labrys.
The new statute of the organization and the specific subpoints of it were also offered for members to vote on. These issues included questions on the juridical positioning of Labrys, quotas in the Board and size of the Board, associated membership, membership fees and online voting. However, it was decided with majority vote that decision on the Statute would need to be taken later in December after all newly accepted members have familiarized themselves with its content. The new date for voting on the Statute was set to be 22 December 2007.