Vienna: New Pedestrian Signs For LGBTQ Rights

Vienna: New Pedestrian Signs For LGBTQ Rights

Vienna: New Pedestrian Signs For LGBTQ Rights

Vienna has replaced its pedestrian signs with gay, straight and lesbian-themed signs to promote equality and safety. This faces opposition from the right-wing Freedom party.

As hosts of Eurovision 2015, the city wanted to celebrate its acceptance of LGBT rights and decided to implement these signs at 47 road crossings until June to endorse Eurovision’s values on sexual equality.

“The move was designed to present Vienna as an open-minded city. It’s used to welcome the large gay numbers that follow this musical event and allow them to be comfortable,” said a spokeswoman representing the city’s lighting department. “However, we also decided to enforce these signs to attract pedestrian and drivers, prevent lesser accidents as well as jaywalking”.

The signs at each road crossing features three couples in red and light green: gay, straight and lesbians. These signs are also adorned with hearts to get the idea across that loving another (whether men or women) is perfectly acceptable.

The spokeswoman has also indicated that city officials will start collating data as soon as Eurovision ends to find out if the move helped introduce greater safety precautions amongst pedestrians and drivers or hindered this effort. Based on these new findings, the signs will be implemented for a longer time at more crossings or won’t be found in Vienna any longer.

However, the right-wing Freedom Party of Vienna feels these signs are transgressing Vienna’s traffic regulations and also wasting taxpayers’ money because they cost a whooping 63,000€ in total.

In opposition to these signs, the Freedom Party has filed a criminal complaint on money wastage against the Viennese council member in charge of traffic issues in the city, Maria Vassilakou.   

However, despite the heavy criticism, Viennese residents remain positive that these signs are fostering the idea of equality in a country that highly regards Catholic values.

“I think this is a great idea. The topic of equality and equal treatment is a very important issue and it is getting some attention through the campaign,” said Clemens Bendtner, a Viennese resident.

Although city officials haven’t decided yet whether these signs will remain permanent fixtures on Viennese streets, I personally believe these signs are great idea that can be improved upon. Austria and Vienna, in particular may have come a long way in allowing gay and lesbian couples to enjoy equal employment opportunities and anti-discrimination laws on speeches as Austria’s straight population from 1971.

However, the country still hasn’t legalized same-sex marriages, same-sex adoption, surrogacy for gay couples and the donation of blood from gay couples. Currently, same-sex marriages are pending in Viennese court and the constitutional court ruled this year in Vienna that it was illegal for gay couples to adopt children.

These basic rights that straight couples possess should be extended upon to gay and lesbian-themed couples. Considering the fact that Ireland recently joined the bandwagon of EU countries (from France to Sweden) legalizing same-sex marriage, I think Vienna’s decision to implement these signs at a time when this law is pending in Viennese courts is extremely important.

However, whilst Vienna remains highly progressive in advancing LGBT rights since it contains one of the largest gay communities in Austria, other Austrian cities should follow Vienna’s path and implement these signs as well or find other ways to educate and acclimatize its residents to LGBT rights.  Salzburg, Innsbruck, Linz and Graze (all heavily populated with LGBT couples) should also implement these pedestrian signs in support of their large gay communities.

Without the city’s effort and the community’s comfort, Austria may never change the “pending” card of same-sex marriage law to the “permanent” card. It may remain impermanent forever. Without more advancement of LGBT rights in Austria, other rights such as bisexual and transsexual can’t be encouraged either.

The world is constantly evolving. It’s time for Austria to get on track with the rest of the world, in spite of the conflicts LGBT rights possess against Roman Catholic values.

Dakshayani is currently a freshman at NYU, majoring in French and Journalism, with minors in German and English Literature. Raised in Malaysia and Australia, Dakshayanienjoys exploring gender roles across various cultures and meeting people who are passionate about the arts. Her interests are predominantly artistic, linguistic or associated with animals: theatre review, French, German, scriptwriting, violin studies, dog shelter volunteering and writing. Dakshayani enjoys learning about people’s perspective on the delicate line between gender, love and sex and is deeply passionate about this. She has a weakness for Siberian huskies and dreams of owning three one day. Besides Her Culture, Dakshayani also works as a Visual Arts Columnist for WSN's The Highlighter and maintains her own WordPress blog. 

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