Australians are painting the streets with colorful chalk protesting against the removal of a rainbow pedestrian crossing in Sydney’s main gay district. Calls to retain it as a statement of gay pride were ignored, and the crossing, perceived as a safety hazard, was removed. The colorful stripes on Oxford Street were originally painted to recognize the 35th anniversary of Sydney’s annual Mardi Gras gay pride celebration, which is one of Australia’s biggest tourist attractions. The crossing became a magnet to tourists and was removed on April 11 despite a petition drive, which garnered more than 15,000 signatures, in addition to the support of former- tennis star Martina Navratilova. A CCTV footage showing people lying down on the road to take pictures led to officials deeming the crossing dangerous.
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James Brechney, 29, responded by posting on Facebook a photo of a rainbow crossing he chalked in the laneway outside his home. His “DIY Rainbow Crossings” page has now garnered over 17,000 likes in less than a week. The ‘rainbow fever’ began to spread as people all around Australia; as well as France, the United States, and Germany, are now chalking similar rainbows on their streets. “It was a celebration of the short-lived crossing that we had in Sydney, and I’m just so thrilled it’s taken-off globally,” Brechney said.
A YouTube video showed men chalking rainbow stripes in front of the office of Duncan Gay, the roads minister in New South Wales state. Gay expressed that the chalked rainbows themselves were potentially dangerous and petitioned people to “be very careful where you place these crossings because a young child might be injured or even killed.”
There is no sign of the movement ending anytime soon. Calls are now being made for rainbows to be chalked outside parliament in New Zealand, which is expected to pass a marriage equality bill later on Wednesday. [Reuters]