LGBTQIA+

Statistically, Israeli lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual+ (LGBTQIA+) youth experience severe stressors such as bullying, homelessness and prostitution at considerably higher rates than the non-LGBTQIA+ youth demographic. Notably, this population engages in prostitution at a younger age and spends more years in prostitution; some transgender youth consider prostitution as a means to fund hormones and gender reassignment surgeries. LGBTQIA+ youth tend to be a vulnerable population and these individuals can end up on the streets for a multiplicity of complex reasons and unique circumstances.

Across our various programs and shelters, ELEM is expanding support to LGBTQIA+ youth by recognizing and meeting the unique needs of this community. To provide specialized therapy and support for this community, ELEM staff and volunteers can receive additional demographic-specific training addressing LGBTQIA+ issues. Our organization also includes LGBTQIA+ individuals who work in various professional and volunteer roles, including leadership positions.

ELEM IN ACTION

ELEM’s Coffee and Small Talk/Hafuch Al Hafuch drop-in Center in Tel Aviv is conveniently located across the street from the LGBTQIA+ Community Center. The proximity of these two Centers makes it more likely that LGBTQIA+ youth will be aware of and engage in ELEM programs.

As of late 2020, nearly one-third of the youth who visit the Tel Aviv ELEM Center are in the LGTQIA+ community, and many of them are from more traditional (and often less tolerant) families. For those not ready to take part in programs specifically designated for LGBTQIA+, the Center offers a welcoming environment for everyone. Also, since the program isn’t exclusively LGBTQIA+, youth may experience a sense of belonging to a broader community.

As of 2020, more than half of youth and young people (up to 21 years old) who seek support and services at The Heart, or in Hebrew – Halev 24/7 Program and Shelter are LGBTQIA+, most of whom are from Arab families and have experienced violence at home. The program provides a safe space for these individuals engaging in street prostitution.

・On average, a homophobic incident is reported every 3 hours in Israel.

“My mom sexually abused me. I had to run away. I found myself on the streets. No one knew I was gay, and I didn’t tell anyone I was working as a prostitute in order to survive. I blamed myself for being in this situation, I thought I was the only one in the world with this experience. But then I came to The Heart (Halev). I found other boys in the exact same situation. They were members of the LGBTQIA+ community and survived by means of prostitution. The moment I realized I wasn’t alone, opening up became much easier. Today I don’t work in prostitution anymore. I have a job, and I rent my own apartment. My life has changed.”

Y.17, Haifa