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Vienna gets gay-themed traffic lights

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Photo: MA 33
10:08 CEST+02:00
Hundreds of gay-couple traffic lights have been introduced in Vienna in time for the annual Eurovision Song Contest, which this year is being hosted by the Austrian capital.

The traffic lights in central Vienna show male or female gay couples with hearts - in red for stop and green for go - replacing the usual single, gender-neutral figure.

One hundred and twenty pedestrian crossings will be equipped with the new traffic lights which are intended to show how open-minded Vienna is, Greens MP Maria Vassilakou said.

The new traffic lights will cost a total of €63,000 and are being introduced for a ‘test phase’ which lasts until the end of June.

It’s also hoped they will improve traffic safety as the unusual symbols will attract the attention of drivers and pedestrians, Vassilakou added.

Last year 22 children were injured on pedestrian crossings. Vassilakou said data will be collated to see whether the campaign has really helped traffic safety.

Readers of the mass circulation tabloid Kronen Zeitung have expressed their outrage at the move in the paper's comments section. "That's our tax money - not your private play money! Couldn't a better use for it have been found?" one reader fumed. 

"There's not enough money to help single parents or build new play parks but there seems to be plenty of money for senseless things," another reader complained. 

Toni Mahdalik of the right-wing FPO party called the initiative gender politics "gone mad", and said the money would have been better spent on reducing poverty and unemployment figures.

Singing sewers

Eurovision takes place in Vienna after bearded transvestite Conchita Wurst won last year's contest for Austria with the song Rise like a Phoenix and immediately became a gay icon.

On Vienna's busy high streets and squares, sewers have swapped gurgling sounds for musical tunes.

Cleverly hidden stereo systems inside the gutters play Austria's two winning Eurovision songs - one by Wurst and the other by 1966 champion Udo Jürgens.

They also promote this year's entry, I Am Yours by Austrian trio The Makemakes, currently ranked 21st of the bookmakers' favourites.

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About 40 countries are taking part in the 2015 Eurovision contest, now in its 60th year, and the final will be held on May 23rd.

Vienna also hosts the Life Ball charity event on May 16th to raise money for the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Hollywood actress Charlize Theron, French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier and Conchita will be among the guests.

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