Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Aegean a-gender in dispute

Early in May I wrote about the angst of the islanders of Lesvos (also known as Lesbos) in Greece. They'd filed a lawsuit, trying to insist that the word 'lesbian' should refer only to inhabitants of the island, not to those of a particular sexual orientation.

Today comes the news that they lost.

Residents of the Greek island of Lesbos have lost their legal bid to ban the use of the word lesbian to describe gay women.

The group had argued that the word insulted their identity.

Lesbos was the birthplace in 7BC of Sappho, whose love poems inspired the term lesbian.

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

The ruling also ordered the three plaintiffs to pay court expenses of £180 [about $360].

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

Mr Chirdaris said the plaintiffs are free to appeal against the decision in a higher court.

The Aegean island of Lesbos lies just off the Turkish coast. It has become a gathering spot for gay women, especially at the village of Eressos, which is regarded as the birthplace of Sappho.

Several residents testified during the trial that the use of the word lesbian had boosted the island's tourist trade.

I can understand the chagrin of the more straight-laced residents about this . . . but at least they tried - and they can make money off the tourists.

It's funny how a place can be attached to a name with an entirely different significance. As I've observed in another place, how odd is it that in these days of rampant oral sex, Britain should still have a reputation as the home of the 'stiff upper lip'?


1 comment:

Rogue Medic said...

Maybe the stiff upper lip is meant to describe the recipient.