In an historic gesture of recognition, Israel President Reuven Rivlin hosted members of the IGY Israeli gay youth organization at his residence in Jerusalem today.

This is the first time in Israeli history that an Israeli president has hosted members of a LGBT organization.

“It was a moving moment,” IGY Co- Executive Director Mandy Michaeli told Tazpit News Agency. “We told the President about our experiences as members of the LGBT community living in Tel Aviv, about the things about ourselves IGY has helped us discover.”

“The President was extremely supportive: he called himself our friend, and was very appreciative of our work and our efforts toward making Israel a more pluralistic society,” Michaeli said.

“It was inspiring to see that kind of recognition coming from a high position within the establishment,” she added.

IGY is a nation-wide organization that reaches out to LGBT youth in Israel through a variety of educational programs both within and outside the official education system.

Its team of over 200 volunteers engages approximately 7,000 young people of various ages and backgrounds each year, offering them an essential framework for forging social connections.

“People who live outside of social norms encounter difficulties on a daily basis,” Michaeli told the President during the meeting. “But this reality also allows us to observe society from the outside – to examine it and ourselves with a critical and sensitive eye, allowing for the acceptance of otherness. Our educational agenda is to mold a future generation of active citizens who love themselves as they are, in order to create a more pluralistic, solid and strong Israeli society.”

Israel – more specifically, Tel Aviv – has become a prominent hub of the international LGBT community in recent years. Tel Aviv’s annual Pride Festival, which is now underway and concludes on June 12, draws hundreds of thousands of participants from around the world.

Tazpit News Agency