Vienna's gay traffic signals get green light to stay for good

A new traffic light, showing a same-sex couple, is pictured on May 12, 2015 in Vienna. Gay-themed traffic lights installed in Vienna for the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest have proven so popular that authorities have now decided to keep them for g
A new traffic light, showing a same-sex couple, is pictured on May 12, 2015 in Vienna. Gay-themed traffic lights installed in Vienna for the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest have proven so popular that authorities have now decided to keep them for good and even turn them into t-shirts. -- PHOTO: AFP

VIENNA (AFP) - Gay-themed traffic lights installed in Vienna for the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest have proven so popular that authorities have now decided to keep them for good and even turn them into t-shirts.

The Austrian capital, which hosts this year's kitsch pop competition, launched the revamped lights a fortnight ago at 120 zebra crossings as a symbol of tolerance.

Instead of the traditional single figure, they now show either a gay or heterosexual couple holding hands, along with a heart symbol.

The city confirmed on Wednesday it had ordered 2,000 t-shirts featuring the small figures in red and green on a black background.

One t-shirt costs 5 euros (S$7.42).

This follows an earlier announcement by officials that the lights, which cost 63,000 euros, would become a permanent fixture in response to an overwhelmingly positive public reaction.

More than 20,000 people signed an online petition to keep the quirky signals.

"They have acquired cult status," said city councillor Maria Vassilakou.

"It's great for the acceptance of gay couples and of course also for Vienna tourism." Campaigns are already under way to install the lights in other Austrian cities.

The idea has even spread across to Germany where Munich apparently plans to launch its own gay traffic lights in July.

A total of 27 countries will take part in the Eurovision final held at Vienna's Stadthalle arena on Saturday night. The event is expected to attract up to 200 million viewers.