Languages
Page last updated at 09:53 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 10:53 UK

Lesbos islanders dispute gay name

By Malcolm Brabant
BBC News, Athens

Gay pride parade Brazil 2007
The term lesbian is now widely used to describe homosexual women

Campaigners on the Greek island of Lesbos are to go to court in an attempt to stop a gay rights organisation from using the term "lesbian".

The islanders say that if they are successful they may then start to fight the word lesbian internationally.

The issue boils down to who has the right to call themselves Lesbians.

Is it gay women, or the 100,000 people living on Greece's third biggest island - plus another 250,000 expatriates who originate from Lesbos?

The man spearheading the case, publisher Dimitris Lambrou, claims that international dominance of the word in its sexual context violates the human rights of the islanders, and disgraces them around the world.

He says it causes daily problems to the social life of Lesbos's inhabitants.

Injunction sought

In court papers, the plaintiffs allege that the Greek government is so embarrassed by the term Lesbian that it has been forced to rename the island after its capital, Mytilini.

map of Lesbos

An early court date has now been set for judges to decide whether to grant an injunction against the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece and to order it to change its name.

A spokeswoman for the group has described the case as a groundless violation of freedom of expression, and has pledged to fight it.

The term lesbian originated from the poet Sappho, who was a native of Lesbos.

Sappho expressed her love of other women in poetry written during the 7th Century BC.

But according to Mr Lambrou, new historical research has discovered that Sappho had a family, and committed suicide for the love of a man.


SEE ALSO
Gay Latinos 'minority twice over'
29 Apr 08 |  Americas
In pictures: Sydney gay pride
01 Mar 08 |  In Pictures
Africa's lesbians demand change
27 Feb 08 |  Africa
Tribe blesses lesbian 'marriage'
06 Dec 06 |  South Asia


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2013 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific