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Vienna's gay-themed traffic lights to stay

The Local · 19 May 2015, 11:06

Published: 19 May 2015 11:06 GMT+02:00

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The 49 traffic lights, which feature male or female gay couples (as well as a heterosexual couple) with hearts - in red for stop and green for go - were initially introduced for the start of the Eurovision Song Contest which this year is being hosted by the Austrian capital - and were slated to be removed in June.

But after featuring on the BBC, in the New York Times and other media reports across the world they have gained a certain amount of fame - with social media campaigns set up to petition for the lights to stay.

There was of course some criticism within Austria, with opponents saying it was a waste of taxpayers' money and the right-wing Freedom party (FPÖ) even announced it would lodge a criminal complaint against Vienna council member Maria Vassilakou (Greens), who came up with the idea.

However, Vassilakou said that the lights had "already achieved cult status and have become a popular photo opportunity. This is great for the acceptance of gay and lesbian couples and tourists love them.”

The conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) also argued that the lights should be kept and should become part of Vienna’s marketing campaign - with one councillor even suggesting that copies could be sold in tourist shops.

The lights cost a total of €63,000 to produce and install and it is hoped that they will also improve traffic safety as the unusual symbols will attract the attention of drivers and pedestrians.

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The tourism spokesman for the Social Democrats party (SPÖ) has even called for the lights to be installed across Austria. 

Vienna Tourist Board director Norbert Kettner said they had already had a positive effect on tourism, and showed the world that Vienna has a "sense of humour."

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