More than 4,300 people will turn out on Friday afternoon to stage a “mass kissing” outside Vienna’s Café Prückel in protest of discrimination that took place last week against two customers. Eva Prewein and Anastasia Lopez, who are 26 and 19, respectively, said they complained to the manager after a waiter interrupted their kiss and told them to stop. Manager Christl Sedlar told the pair that she had nothing against gay people, but explained that Café Prückel did not tolerate “cuddling” in general. Sedlar told Lopez and Prewein that they belonged “in a brothel and not in a traditional coffee house” before throwing them out.
The exchange reportedly took place in front of other customers, none of whom got involved or stood up for the couple. The manager was later approached by a news site and explained that “it was more than a hello kiss” the pair exchanged, which really doesn’t help the 1950s-era coffeehouse much. Prückel is one of the few extant and old-school Viennese cafés; the brews are strong, the daily newspapers are bound by wooden sticks, and someone comes in at dusk to softly plunk out a lovely tune on the piano. Nonetheless, its house politics seem stunted in some 1890s cultural backwater: In 2005, another lesbian couple was kicked out after exchanging a hug and a kiss in the dining room.
The Austrian Equal Treatment Act of 2004, which sounds like it could be a potentially helpful bit of legislation here, pertains mostly to discrimination in the workplace, so gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals are not guaranteed the same rights as everyone else when it comes to goods, services, and “semi-private spaces.” An activist group told ORF that similar incidents occurred “between five and seven” times in the last year. Several LGBT activist groups have consolidated to organize the “kissing protest,” which has amassed a huge number of supporters in just a few hours. Maybe someone can stage a solidarity kiss-in for New York?