Austrian City Fights for the Right to Keep Its Gay-Friendly Traffic Lights

The far-right Freedom Party wanted to have them removed.

Back in May, gay-themed traffic lights were installed in Vienna, Austria, to celebrate the Eurovision Song Contest. Austria was hosting the kitsch pop competition’s 2015 edition, so it seemed appropriate to install new gay- and lesbian-themed walk signals in 120 crosswalks throughout the city. The contest has become a showcase for sexual tolerance after the 2014 winner was Austria's “bearded lady,” a drag performer portrayed by Thomas Neuwirth. Vienna’s new signals show gay and heterosexual couples holding hands while crossing the street and, like most crosswalk signals, flash red for “stop” or green for “walk.”

Via Twitter

After the Eurovision contest ended, Viennese authorities decided to keep the traffic signals as a symbol of the city’s tolerance. But recently, the traffic lights came under attack in the city of Linz by Austria’s far-right, anti-gay Freedom Party. Markus Hein of the Freedom Party is the city’s main traffic official and objected to the lights on the grounds that “traffic lights are for traffic and should not be misused to impart advice on how to live your life.” But Linz’s mayor, Klaus Luger, rebuked him, calling the lights a “symbol for equality.” He added that taking them down would give “the impression that Linz is a petty town.” The city legislature would go on to overrule Hein’s proposal, so Linz residents are once again free to enjoy the most tolerant crosswalks in the world.

(H/T The Telegraph)