Vienna’s Same-Sex Traffic Lights Are Staying Put

A new traffic light, showing a same-sex couple, is pictured on May 12, 2015 in Vienna. 

Photo by DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images

Same-sex love has gotten the green-light in Vienna, as the city has installed special traffic light filters depicting male-male, female-female, and opposite-sex couples in place of the typical stick figures. The charming initiative was originally undertaken as part of preparations for a cluster of tolerance-themed events taking place in the city, including the Life Ball (a major European HIV/AIDS fundraiser) and the upcoming Eurovision song contest. Described by city traffic official Maria Vassilakou as having already achieved “cult status,” the traffic lights, which were placed at 47 different intersections, have now been approved to remain in place indefinitely after June, when they were scheduled to be taken down.

According to the Associated Press, a right-wing party in Austria has threatened to file a criminal complaint against Vassilakou on the grounds that the lights are a waste of state funds; but local reports suggest that most citizens and tourists are supportive or at least indifferent to the signals, and a Facebook page created to support their presence has received over 20,000 likes. The AP also reports that Munich is pursuing the installation of similar lights in the near future to coincide with that city’s LGBTQ Pride events this summer. If I were running the Pride festivities in a city stateside, I’d be taking notes right about now …