Merging state and social support

Four years ago, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai took councilman Itai Pinkas's suggestion to launch a municipal community center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

By LAUREN GELFOND FELDINGER
May 15, 2008 10:33
1 minute read.

Four years ago, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai took councilman Itai Pinkas's suggestion to launch a municipal community center for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The city kicked in the entire NIS 1.3 million budget for building renovations in a Gan Meir building and has approved an annual operating budget of NIS 500,000. The center, scheduled to open on June 1, will be the first known LGBT community center in the world to be financed and run by the local government. Like other community centers run by local municipalities, it will have social and cultural events, such as concerts, films and exhibitions. But it will also have support activities, including legal aid, health services, workshops, support groups, and family counselors. There is also a critical need in the community for youth groups, says Pinkas, Huldai's adviser on gay affairs. "About one third of attempts to commit suicide among young people are by gay teens." The center is also hoping to open childcare facilities next year. "We made a detailed survey and more than 3,000 people answered," explains Pinkas. "The results were definite: The community needs services. "The gay community in Tel Aviv is very significant in numbers and contributions to the city's cultural life and economy, and there is no reason why the local government should not give necessary services crucial to these citizens. "Also, some people have bad experience sharing their being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and others are understandably afraid to do so, so this place will be an open and safe haven for them."


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