In a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Facebook, Sunil Babu Pant, Nepal’s first openly gay MP has asked for the social network to give users the option to describe their gender as ‘other’.
At present, Facebook requires users to select either male or female although it does give them the option of hiding their response.
Here is the letter in full from the member of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly who is also the director of Nepal’s LGBTI charity Blue Diamond:-
Dear Mr Zuckerberg,
My name is Sunil Babu Pant. I am the founder and director of Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s first LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) rights organization.
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.
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.
Please let me know if I can help in the process.
Sunil B Pant
Executive Director, Blue Diamond Society
Member of Nepal Constituent Assembly