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GAY

Linz scraps gay-themed traffic signals

Gay-themed traffic signals in Linz aimed at promoting greater tolerance have been removed, the Austrian city's new far-right traffic official said on Monday.

Linz scraps gay-themed traffic signals
Photo: AFP

“Traffic lights are for traffic and should not be misused to impart advice on how to live your life,” said Markus Hein from the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ).

Instead of the usual stick man, the special lights at pedestrian crossings show two figures: either a man or a woman, two men or two women, holding hands, together with a little heart symbol.

They were first installed temporarily in Vienna for the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this year but proved so popular that they were made permanent and spread to Salzburg and to Linz.

Hein, whose populist party is topping opinion polls in Austria, said that the lights were “completely unnecessary” and did nothing to promote rights for gay people, which he said were already well advanced.

His party lodged a criminal complaint in May against the Vienna councillor who organized the lights.

GAY

Same-sex unions in Austria edge closer to marriage status

A new piece of legislation placed for review on Tuesday’s docket aims to enhance the status of same-sex unions in Austria. If passed, it will change the government venue for commitment ceremonies as well as afford LGBT couples a position similar to heterosexual marriage on the basis of sharing names.

Same-sex unions in Austria edge closer to marriage status
Whereas previously same-sex unions were recognized by the district authorities, they could soon be processed through the registry office just like conventional marriages. 
 
Introduced by Minister for Families and Youth, Sophie Karmasin and her fellow cabinet members from the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka and Justice Minister Wolfgang Brandstetter, it would represent a big step forward for LGBT rights in Austria.
 
If the movement goes through, same-sex couples will soon be able to formally take one another’s “family names”, instead of just their “last names”. Until now, the term used on documents that officiated these unions was “last name” to protect those who were afraid of “forced outings”, or having their sexuality publicly recognized. 
 
These potential changes could go into effect as soon as January 2017.