Sydney row over removal of rainbow road crossing

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Media captionRainbow painted road crossing torn up in Sydney

A row has erupted in the Australian city, Sydney, after a road crossing painted in rainbow stripes for the annual gay parade was removed.

The crossing had become a tourist attraction, but the New South Wales government said it was a safety hazard.

Road workers removed the crossing late on Thursday and replaced it with grey tarmac.

One local councillor condemned the move as an aggressive act against Sydney's lesbian and gay community.

The rainbow crossing, an idea of Sydney's city council, was placed as part of this year's gay and lesbian Mardi Gras celebration.

A popular addition to the streetscape, it brightened up what had been a fairly drab intersection and even became an attraction for tourists, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney.

Some saw it as Sydney's answer to Abbey Road, the pedestrian crossing made famous by the Beatles, our correspondent adds.

But state government officials said CCTV footage showed the rainbow road crossing was a safety hazard.

At least 15,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the crossing to remain.

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