A court in Athens today rejected a law suit from some residents of the island of Lesbos that attempted to stop homosexual women from using the word ‘lesbian’ to define themselves.

Three islanders took gay rights group OLKE, the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece, to court to get a ban on anyone except islanders and their descendants using the term lesbian.

The court ruled that they do not have sole claim to the word.

The Greek island, home to the 6th Century BC poet Sappho, who wrote about female same-sex love, lends its name to the term ‘lesbian.’

“My sister can’t say she is a Lesbian,” islander and plaintiff Dimitris Lambrou told AP at the start of the case last month.

“Our geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos.”

Andrea Gilbert, spokesperson for Athens Pride 2008 and a member of OLKE, has drawn attention to the amount of money from tourism that lesbians bring to the island when visiting Eressos, the birthplace of Sappho.

She told PinkNews.co.uk:

“The claim is based in serious prejudice and hatred, a ridiculous claim that most Greeks find laughable.

“However, the underlying homophobia and reactionary sentiment is no laughing matter.”

Mr Lambrou said they will take their case to the European courts.

“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.