Page last updated at 18:38 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 19:38 UK

Lesbos locals lose lesbian appeal

A Lesbos resident holds a banner reading: "If you are not from Lesbos, you are not a Lesbian" outside the Athens courthouse where Lesbos residents launched their case, 10 June 2008
Residents claim using the term to refer to gay women insults their identity

Three residents of the Greek island of Lesbos have lost an attempt to ban the use of the word "lesbian" to describe gay women.

The residents argued that using the term in reference to gay women insulted their identity.

But an Athens court ruled there was no justification for their contention that they felt slighted, saying the word did not define the islanders' identity.

Greeks often refer to the island as Mytilene, after its capital.

"This is a good decision for lesbians everywhere," Vassilis Chirdaris, lawyer for the Gay and Lesbian Union of Greece, told Reuters news agency.

Court expenses

The island's name was applied to gay women in acknowledgement of the female poet Sappho, of Lesbos, who wrote love poems about both women and men in about 600 BC.

The man spearheading the case, publisher Dimitris Lambrou, had claimed that international dominance of the word in its sexual context violated the human rights of the islanders - who call themselves Lesbians - and disgraces them around the world.

He argued it caused daily problems to the social life of Lesbos's inhabitants.

But the court disagreed, ordering the plaintiffs to pay court expenses of 230 euros ($366), although they could appeal against the decision.

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