A group of drag queens and transgender performers have called on Facebook to allow stage names rather than real names on the social network.

A petition supporting the change has attracted more than 2,000 signatures.

Facebook told the BBC that its real-name policy was designed to protect the community and increase accountability.

But the group argued that performers should be allowed to use stage names for reasons of "privacy, safety, or preference".

The petition, set up by Seattle-based performer Olivia La Garce, reads: "Although our names might not be our 'legal' birth names, they are still an integral part of our identities, both personally and to our communities.

"These are the names we are known by and call each other and ourselves.

"We build our networks, community, and audience under the names we have chosen, and forcing us to switch our names after years of operating under them has caused nothing but confusion and pain."

Another performer, San Francisco-based Sister Roma, said he was locked out of his account until he used the name Michael Williams. A hashtag #mynameisroma was started to raise awareness of the issue.

Drag queen Cherry Sur Bete, who said his profile had also been flagged as breaking the rules, said: "This isn't just a matter for nightlife performers, this is a matter for actors and musicians, as well as folks who have chosen a different name simply to avoid potential stalkers.

"Mental health professionals and victims of abuse frequently use a nickname to avoid problematic interactions. Facebook now effectively hands them over to those potential problems."

BBC News