Rainbow Crossings

© Photograph: Olaya Tapia

A small Swedish town paints its road signs in rainbow colours, calling on residents to respect LGBTQ rights and reminding them that it is okay to be different.


When Joakim Månsson Bengtsson was growing up in the small Swedish town of Södra Sandby in the Municipality of Lund, he was bullied for being different. By proposing that the municipality should paint its pedestrian crossings in rainbow colours, both in the city centre and in Södra Sandby and other small towns and villages, he wanted to make sure that other LGBTQ young people wouldn’t have to go through the same thing.


The rainbow crossings are the result of a Lund Proposal (Lundaförslag) which allows ordinary citizens to raise support for an idea. If more than 100 Lund inhabitants support the proposal, the municipal council has to consider it. As a former member of the municipal council, Bengtsson’s experience of the decision-making process in Lund meant he was able to follow the proposal through to adoption and implementation. The process of the proposal resulted in a compromise. The municipality would not paint the pedestrian crossings in rainbow colours, but would instead paint road signs all over the municipality in rainbow colours. Although the proposal was not adopted in its entirety, Bengtsson regards the outcome as a victory. Rainbow colours will be seen in public areas all over the municipality – and that was the goal of his proposal.


Painting pedestrian crossings or road signs in rainbow colours reminds everyone moving around a city or a village about LGBTQ rights: about the right to be who you are and to be proud of being you. The project is inspired by similar initiatives, for instance in Brussels, but this is the first time such action has been taken in small, rural settings in Sweden – exactly the kind of place where it is most needed!

Project owner
Joakim Månsson Bengtsson
Former Member of Lund Municipal Council, Social Policy Spokesperson, Feminist Initiative Party