/ 22 July 2008

Lesbians vs lesbians

A Greek court on Tuesday ruled a gay rights group can use the name “lesbian”, saying people from the Aegean island of Lesbos did not have sole claim to the name.

A group of islanders from Lesbos filed a lawsuit against the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece in April, accusing it of insulting locals, who are also called Lesbians.

“They insult our historical and geographical identity by using the name,” Dimitris Lambrou said. The islanders were seeking to have the group barred from using the word “lesbian” in its name.

But the Greek court ruled against the islanders, saying they did not have sole claim to the name.

The island of Lesbos is also called Mytilene, after its capital, and is a popular holiday destination for gay women.

Lambrou, who publishes a magazine on ancient Greek religion, said the islanders will take their complaint to international courts if need be.

“The word ‘lesbian’ has been associated with gay women for the past few decades but we have been Lesbians for thousands of years,” he said.

Lesbos was the birthplace of the seventh-century poet Sappho, who tradition says killed herself by jumping off a cliff over an unhappy love affair. Many of her poems contain passionate references to love for other women.

Evagelia Vlami from the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece said that the name “is not only used by her association but is used across Europe and the United States — from Great Britain to Russia”. — Sapa-dpa