Europe

Vienna brings in gay pedestrian crossing lights

Gay-themed traffic lights Image copyright Reuters
Image caption It is hoped the eye-catching change will improve road safety, a Vienna spokeswoman said

Dozens of traffic lights in the Austrian capital have been changed to show gay couples crossing the road instead of the traditional lone figure.

Vienna has changed the signal images at 120 pedestrian crossings - also showing heterosexual couples - in preparation for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Officials said the signals were a sign of Vienna's open-mindedness.

Toni Mahdalik of the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria called the initiative gender politics "gone mad".

He said the money would have been better spent on reducing poverty and improving unemployment figures.

It is hoped the signals, which show couples holding hands and with love hearts above them instead of a gender-neutral figure, will also improve safety.

The unusual symbols are attracting the attention of drivers and pedestrians, a spokeswoman for Vienna's city lighting department said.

Many of the millions who watch Eurovision include a huge gay fan base and last year's winner, bearded transvestite Conchita Wurst, became a global gay icon with the song Rise like a Phoenix.

About 40 countries are taking part in the 2015 Eurovision contest. The final will be held on May 23.

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