Some spontaneously spent the following night at the site keeping guard of the exhibition. The public and politicians also showed solidarity.

Madeleine Petrovic, MP for the Green Party, demanded to recognition of homosexual victims in the Nazi Victims Compensation Act and the repeal of Article 209 of the penal code as the appropriate reaction to this “danger signal”. A similar statement was made by Marie Ringler of the Vienna Green Party. City Councillors Renate Brauner and Andreas Mailath-Pokorny, both from the Social-Democrats, expressed their dismay and indignation, the latter also promised spontaneously to pay for the repair of the columns. Only the conservative People’s Party and the right-wing Freedom Party kept quiet. On 27 June, however, the City Council of Vienna unanimously adopted a resolution tabled by the Green Party condemning the attack on the exhibition.

Act of Vandalism

The 14 columns were already mounted on the piece of lawn, specifically designated for the exhibition, at the large Heldenplatz area on 12 and 13 June 2001 since the day of its opening, the 14 of June, was a public holiday on which the company commissioned to set up the columns did not work. During the night from 13 to 14 June an act of vandalism occurred. Unidentified perpetrators tore eleven of the fourteen columns out of their anchoring in the soil. While these eleven columns were knocked down, they columns themselves were not damaged. It was surprising that nobody observed this act of vandalism although the Federal Chancellery and the office of the Federal President is situated only 200 metres away.

HOSI Wien decided to open the exhibition in the evening of 14 June as planned. The speeches of the opening speakers were obviously echoing the shock and dismay of many lesbians and gays felt that day.

The eleven columns were repaired on the day after the attack, 15 June. This took half a day because the foundation of each column had to be replaced. One column – the one dealing with compensation never granted – was deliberately not erected again in order to remember the act of vandalism. In the remaining exhibition period, this column was raised by unidentified (well-meaning?) persons three times (and put down again by us).

No doubt, the exhibition was a big success. The idea to show it on a public square and not in a museum certainly contributed to this success. Thus, the exhibition was visited and regarded by thousands of people who otherwise would not have visited a museum to see it.