Gay-themed traffic lights get Vienna into mood for Eurovision Song Contest

VIENNA (Reuters) - Gay-themed traffic lights are getting Vienna into the mood for the annual Eurovision Song Contest, one of the world's most popular kitsch cultural events which this year is being hosted by the Austrian capital. Dozens of traffic lights in central Vienna have been programmed to show male or female gay couples with hearts -- in red for stop and green for go -- replacing the usual single, gender-neutral figure. The campaign is intended to present Vienna as an open-minded city and also to improve traffic safety as the unusual symbols attract the attention of drivers and pedestrians, a spokeswoman for Vienna's city lighting department said. The city of Vienna will then collate data to see whether the campaign has indeed helped traffic safety, she added. The Eurovision Song Contest, now in its 60th year, has long been a fixture on the international gay calendar. Last year, bearded transvestite Conchita Wurst won the contest for Austria with the song "Rise like a Phoenix" and immediately became a global gay icon. About 40 countries are taking part in the 2015 Eurovision contest and the final will be held on May 23. Vienna will also host a "Life Ball" charity event on May 16 to raise money for the fight against HIV and AIDS. Hollywood actress Charlize Theron and French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier will be among the guests, along with Conchita. (Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; Editing by Gareth Jones)