Israel Doubles Budget for At-risk LGBT Youth

In light of a growing number of LGBT youth in distress, the Social Affairs Ministry will, for the first time, open emergency and long-term facilities to serve individuals over the age of 18.

A demonstration against homophobia in Jerusalem, November 2015.
Olivier Fitoussi

In light of the growing number of young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Israelis in distress, the Social Affairs Ministry has decided to double its budget for helping these at-risk individuals to 5 million shekels (about $1,312,000) this year, and will for the first time open facilities to serve those over the age of 18.

The two facilities will be emergency living quarters for young gay adults, and a hostel for transgender young adults at risk.

“The LGBT community in general and the transgender people among them in particular are at high risk and exposed to exploitation,” said Tali Yogev, who is responsible at the Social Affairs Ministry for youth protection services.

The suicide rate among LGBT youth is three to four times that of non-LGBT youth, say ministry sources.

The 15-bed emergency facility, to be set up in the center of the country, will be aimed at persons aged 18 to 27, and will provide meals, as well as support and guidance from professionals. Counselors will be on hand at all hours of the day.

The ministry already operates Beit Dror, emergency living quarters for LGBT youths under 18.

The hostel for transgenders is to be established by the end of the year and is aimed at housing persons aged 18 to 25, who are in the process of undergoing a sex change from female to male. It will provide an emergency refuge but will also have a long-term framework, enabling residents to earn a high-school matriculation certificate at the ministry’s expense, and also offering them assistance in pursuing higher education, getting a job and finding places to live.

“Unlike homosexual and lesbian youth," Yogev said, "it’s harder for transgender people to reach a situation of reconciliation and acceptance with their families, and it’s difficult for them to integrate in long-term frameworks that don't specifically cater to them.”

For about a year, a halfway house has been operating in Tel Aviv for young transgender people who have transitioned from female to male.