Vienna brings in gay-themed crossing lights for Eurovision Song Contest

New traffic lights show female same-sex couples in Vienna on May 12.

Story highlights

  • New pedestrian crossing lights show same-sex and heterosexual couples hand in hand
  • Vienna is hosting the Eurovision Song Contest, known for its kitsch songs and outlandish performances

(CNN)Pedestrians waiting to cross the road in the Austrian capital of Vienna will now be greeted by an unusual sight.

Ahead of the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna, nearly 50 "walk" lights have been adapted with new symbols showing couples -- some of them same-sex.
    Instead of a single figure walking or not walking, the lights will show two women, two men or a heterosexual couple hand in hand, with little hearts lighting up between them.
    City officials say they hope the new signals will improve road safety as well as highlighting Vienna's commitment to equality, diversity and tolerance. In the coming days, more lights will be adapted, with 120 pedestrian crossings due to feature the new symbols in total.
    The move comes as Vienna gears up for a huge influx of performers, visitors and media for the Eurovision Song Contest, taking place in the city from May 18 to 23.
    The competition, known for its kitsch songs and outlandish performances, was last year won by Austria's bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst -- earning the nation the privilege, and huge expense, of hosting the contest in 2015.
    The contest, which has been held since 1956, will pit performers from 40 countries against each other.
    Most are from Europe but, for the first time, Australia also will have a wild-card entry in what is perhaps the biggest, brashest, most talentless singing contest in the world.
    According to the city of Vienna, 195 million viewers from across Europe, China and Australia watched the two semifinals or the grand final last year.