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Vienna gives tolerance the green light

May 12, 2015

The red and green men on pedestrian crossing lights in Vienna have been replaced with homo- and heterosexual couples. The initiative comes as part of the Austrian capital's drive to improve "tolerance" in society.

Pedestrian crossing lights in Vienna, Austria
Image: Reuters/H.-P. Bader

The figures, who appear holding hands next to a love heart when the light turns to green, are also intended to improve traffic safety.

"The new traffic icons should also increase attention to the Vienna traffic lights and prevent accidents," said Maria Vassilakou, the city's deputy mayor .

The first of the 49 traffic light characters, known in the German language as "Ampelmännchen," have already made their debut on the Vienna Ring, a famed boulevard.

Popular LGBT destination

With less than two weeks to go until Life Ball, Europe's biggest charity event supporting people with HIV or AIDS, the appearance of the lit-up lovers hasn't come by chance. The 60th Eurovision Song Contest, with a huge gay fan base among its millions of viewers, is also due to be hosted in Vienna on May 23 by last year's winner and global gay icon Conchita Wurst.

In 2013, in a poll held by the website GayCities.com, some 80,000 people voted Vienna as their favorite cultural destination.

The new pedestrian crossing lights will be trialed in Vienna until the end of June.

ksb/cmk (Reuters, dpa)

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