A Nepalese member of parliament and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex campaigner has appealed to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to make the social networking site more inclusive.
In an open letter to the multi-billionaire king of social media, Sunil Babu Pant says Facebook is ‘sidelining’ people who don’t identify as ‘male’ or ‘female’ by only giving those two options at sign-up.
And he tells Zuckerberg that the government of Nepal is leaping ahead of Facebook by giving an ‘other’ whenever people have to state their gender.
Pant tells Zuckerberg: ‘I write today as an avid user and admirer of Facebook. Your product has revolutionized the way we communicate and express ourselves around the world. It has brought communities together which were otherwise thousands of miles apart, and resulted in collaboration and partnerships which have improved the world.
‘However people who do not identify as male or female continue to be sidelined by Facebook’s options. As you allow users to identify only as male or female, many in the LGBTI community feel as if they are hidden on the site, unable to identify as their true selves.
‘In Nepal, we have been working with the government to improve this identity-based access to documentation and civic participation. The government of Nepal is working to implement a third gender option, labeled “other,” on all official forms and registers.
‘I encourage you to do the same, for the sake of respect for gender-variant people around the world who want to socialize, organize, and be a part of your 21st century internet revolution. I encourage Facebook to celebrate diversity.’
Pant is founder and director of Blue Diamond, Nepal’s first LGBTI rights organization.
In his letter he tells Zuckerberg: ‘In just eleven years, Blue Diamond Society has achieved incredible success advocating for the rights of LGBTI people. This is due, in part, to the fact that Nepal is a country that celebrates diversity, and, in part, to the bravery and tenacity of Blue Diamond Society staff and volunteers.
‘In 2007, the Supreme Court of Nepal responded positively to a case Blue Diamond Society brought before it. We asked the court to find that LGBTI people are equal, and that gender identity should be based only on self-identification. They decided positively on both counts - and now we are working to implement the policies.’
Gay Star News has contacted Facebook for its response and is awaiting a reply.