Court rules lesbians are not just from Lesbos

ATHENS Tue Jul 22, 2008 4:15pm EDT

A Greek court has dismissed a request by residents of the Aegean island of Lesbos to ban the use of the word lesbian to describe gay women, according to a court ruling made public on Tuesday. REUTERS/Graphics

A Greek court has dismissed a request by residents of the Aegean island of Lesbos to ban the use of the word lesbian to describe gay women, according to a court ruling made public on Tuesday.

Credit: Reuters/Graphics

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ATHENS (Reuters) - A Greek court has dismissed a request by residents of the Aegean island of Lesbos to ban the use of the word lesbian to describe gay women, according to a court ruling made public on Tuesday.

Three residents of Lesbos, the birthplace of the ancient Greek poetess Sappho whose love poems inspired the term lesbian, brought a case last month arguing the use of the term in reference to gay women insulted their identity.

In a July 18 decision, the Athens court said the word did not define the identity of the residents of the island, and so it could be validly used by gay groups in Greece and abroad.

The ruling ordered the plaintiffs to pay court expenses of 230 euros ($366.2).

"This is a good decision for lesbians everywhere," Vassilis Chirdaris, lawyer for the Gay and Lesbian Union of Greece, told Reuters. "A court in Athens could not stop people around the world from using it. It was ridiculous."

He said the plaintiffs were free to appeal the decision in a higher court.

Lesbos, which lies just off the Turkish Coast, has become a gathering spot for gay women from around the world, especially at the village of Eressos which is regarded as the birthplace of the poet in the 7th century B.C.

Several residents testified during the trial that the use of the word lesbian had brought recognition to the island and boosted its tourist trade.

(Reporting by Daniel Flynn)

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