Herzog forms emergency committee to assist gay and lesbian community

Saturday night's shooting of gay teenagers was an attack on our entire society, minister says.

Isaac Herzog 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Isaac Herzog 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog announced Monday that his office would establish an emergency committee to look into how professionals could be of assistance to the gay and lesbian community, which is still reeling from a deadly shooting attack on a gay youth club in Tel Aviv on Saturday night that left two young people dead. "Saturday night's shooting of gay teenagers was an attack on our entire society and it demands that we immediately find a way to provide treatment to the entire community," Herzog said in a press statement. On Sunday, immediately following the attack, Herzog dispatched social workers to meet with professionals who work in the community to determine its needs. Psychologists and psychiatrists were made available to provide individual counseling to those emotional disturbed by the attack. In addition, Herzog said that ministry director general Nachum Itzkovitz would lead an investigation to determine what could be done in the long term to help the community deal with such a traumatic event. Just over a week ago Herzog visited another of Tel Aviv's gay community centers and met with leaders of the Israeli Gay Youth Movement. He was informed that the age most teens come to terms with their sexual identity had fallen in recent years from 16 to 13, and that such social networks were integral in providing emotional support to gay teens. Data published Monday by the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services showed that one-third of suicides among teenagers were due to the confusion of sexual identity crisis, and that over 80 percent of gay teens claim to be victims of verbal abuse. More than half say they have been victims of physical attacks.