Though lesbian activists have traditionally fought against discrimination based on sexual orientation, it is homosexual women who now are being accused of insensitivity by wanting to exclude from an upcoming event a specific group of people – transsexual lesbians who used to be males.

Transsexuals are protesting an Australian lesbian festival because an advertisement for the event mentions that only “female-born” lesbians are welcome, Agence France-Presse reported.

Festival organizers obtained an exemption from local equal-opportunity laws before going ahead with the controversial ads. According to the report, those in charge wanted even the event’s caterers to be traditional lesbians.

Offended by the slight, transsexuals appealed the exemption, the news service reports, and the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal yesterday overturned its earlier ruling.

The transsexuals complained the festival failed to recognize lesbians who came by their gender surgically.

Anna Holland-Moore, a spokeswoman for Lesfest 2004, however, said there was a difference between lesbians brought up female and those brought up male, AFP reported.

“It’s not about excluding, it’s about affirmation of our identity,” Holland-Moore told the news service. “We just wanted a week together to consolidate our culture and discuss relevant issues.”

The group sought to exclude not only male-born lesbian transsexuals, but also boys over 8 and non-lesbian girls over 15.

Karen Gurney of WOMAN, a group that lobbies “for the rights of Australian women with transsexualism,” hailed the decision by the tribunal.

“The strong support we received from the mainstream GL community for our full acceptance as the women we are was particularly appreciated by people with transsexualism,” she said in a statement.

The report said the organizers of Lesfest have yet to decide what their next move will be. They might do away with public advertising and simply send private invitations to the January festival.

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