Postcard from... Sydney


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The Independent Online


It seemed the perfect symbol of gay pride and an inspired way to celebrate Sydney’s reputation for tolerance and inclusivity. But a rainbow pedestrian crossing painted across a street in the city’s main gay district has sparked a bitter row, with authorities vowing to tear it up.

The pedestrian crossing on Oxford Street was bedecked with colourful stripes last month ahead of the city’s 35th Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. It was intended to be temporary, but proved so popular that Sydney City Council decided to leave it in place. Locals and tourists photographed each other on the crossing  and posted the pictures on social media.

That proved too much for the state government, which plans to rip up the crossing next week at a cost of A$30,000 (£20,700). And not even a petition with 15,000 signatures, including that of the former Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova, seems likely to save it.

The serendipitously named Duncan Gay, the state’s Roads Minister, said there was a high risk of accidents. Local politicians, though, claim the risk is low, and the Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has condemned the planned removal of the crossing – painted with special non-slip paint – as “bureaucracy gone wild”.