by Jareen Imam
Vienna’s streets just got a little more gay-friendly.
Austria’s capital has reprogrammed 49 of its pedestrian traffic lights, replacing the gender-neutral figures with same-sex couples ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest, a competition that’s popular with the international gay community.
The new lights show red and green same-sex couples — both male and female — accompanied by playful hearts.
The campaign is an effort to showcase Vienna’s open-mindedness towards the LGBT community while improving traffic safety by drawing drivers’ and pedestrians’ attention to the traffic lights, according to the city’s municipal lighting department.
Reuters reports the traffic-signal changes are happening ahead of two major events, the Eurovision Song Contest and the annual Life Ball, a charity event to raise money and awareness in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
The Eurovision Song Contest, which runs May 19-23, pits singers from 40 countries against each other in a competition broadcast live on TV and radio to a vast audience across Europe and beyond. Past contestants in the event, which has been running for 60 years, include ABBA, Celine Dion and Julio Iglesias.
Last year’s winner was Conchita Wurst, an Austrian drag queen.