Israel Earmarks $3 Million to Set Up Local LGBTQ Centers

Social Equality Ministry allocates funds for local governments to assist LGBTQ community ■ Budget cut by millions of shekels because state budget wasn't passed

Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron
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A LGBTQ Pride rally in Jerusalem, June 2020.
A LGBTQ Pride rally in Jerusalem, June 2020.Credit: Oren Ben Hakoon
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

The Social Equality Ministry announced on Tuesday that it would allocate 10 million shekels ($3.1 million) to local governments to establish centers and develop programs for the LGBTQ community.

The ministry’s website said there is “an acute need for providing dedicated services on the municipal level for the different LGBTQ groups that are not provided today in a regular fashion in the great majority of local governments.”

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The local governments that join the initiative will be required to present a strategic plan on promoting their LGBTQ communities. Those that receive the budgets will be required to build LGBTQ community centers and to raise awareness of the community’s needs among local government employees and officials.

The local governments can use the funds to provide services, such as counseling LGBTQ families, establishing support groups and aiding elderly gay people, programs aimed at helping members of the transgender community find employment, and more.

Originally, the program was allocated a budget of 17 million shekels, but this was cut after the state budget was not approved. The Social Equality Ministry has asked the Finance Ministry for an additional 4 million shekels to expand the project.

Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen of Kahol Lavan and the party whip, MK Eitan Ginzburg, sponsored the project. “One of the main goals of the new program is bringing the gay message to the social and geographic periphery,” said Cohen.

The Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force said on Wednesday that this was the first time the government has allocated dedicated funds to local governments for services to the LGBTQ community – with the exception of funding in the past for employing social workers specializing in handling the LGBTQ community.

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