In a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Nepal's first openly gay politician Sunil Babu Pant has appealed that the social network allow its users to list their gender as other.
I write today as an avid user and admirer of Facebook, Pant, a member of Nepal's parliament and the founder and director of Nepal's first LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) organization wrote to Zuckerberg in the letter, published Thursday by Pink News. 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, Pant wrote. 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.
Pant said the Nepal government was working towards implementing a third gender option, other, on all government applications, 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, Pant said.
As of now, Facebook allows only two options for gender, though users are free to not choose any.
Ever since the monarchy ended, Nepal has progressively taken steps to ensure basic rights for the gay community. A Supreme Court ruling in 2007 ensured equality and protection for LGBTI community from possible harassment from law enforcement officers, though homosexuality was technically legalized since 1960s.
Though same-sex marriages have yet to be legalized, the first public gay wedding ceremony of Nepal was held in June 2011 when a lawyer and a college professor from Denver, Colorado, got married in Kathmandu in Hindu Nepalese tradition.
The patriarchal conservative society of Nepal and the allegedly homophobic left-wing politicians including those from the Communist Party describe homosexuality as a production of capitalism that doesn't exist under socialism and don't recognize the rights of sexual minorities outside the legal system.
Apart from the LGBTI rights organization Blue Diamond Society, Pant also runs an LGBTI travel agency that provides honeymoon packages for gay tourists from abroad.