Residents of the Greek island of Lesbos are in court in Athens in a bid to stop a gay group from using the term “lesbian.”

The plaintiffs are asking the courts to ban the Greek gay rights group OLK from using the word, claiming that “lesbian” should only refer to someone hailing from the island.

The term lesbian comes from the fact that Sappho, a poet who lived on Lesbos, produced the first known references to lesbianism sometimes between 625 and 570 BC.

The islanders say that women from Lesbos are embarrassed to call themselves Lesbians – the correct word to describe themselves – because of the associated connotation of female homosexuality.

AP quoted Dimitris Lambrou, one of the residents behind the action, as saying:

“We are very upset that, worldwide, women who like women have appropriated the name of our island. Until 1924, according to the Oxford English dictionary, a Lesbian was a native of our isle,” he said.

“Now, because of its new connotations, our womenfolk are unable to call themselves such and that is wrong.”

Gay rights activists, who say that Greece lags behind the rest of the EU in its acceptance of gays and lesbians, claim that homophobia is behind the residents’ court action.

Police were forced to intervene on Saturday when Gay Pride marchers in Athens were pelted with eggs and flour by anti-gay protestors.

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