Seven members of the Bristol, England gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender group Freedom Youth are visiting Japan to take part in an inaugural educational exchange program, reports the Kyodo News International.

The seven will arrive in Tokyo August 18th, and also plan a cultural trip to Kyoto.

While in Tokyo, the seven young people, aged from 16 to 21, will be co-facilitating educational workshops on LGBT issues affecting young people. A larger public event on August 24th at Tokyo's International Youth Center is set to involve a couple of hundred people.

Organized LGBT events aimed at young people are rare in Japan and where gay youth support networks are almost non-existent.

“LGBT young people are amongst some of the most disadvantaged young people in the country. They are a group who are often denied access to mainstream opportunities. Involvement in the planning and delivery of an international exchange provides a unique platform where they can develop personally and socially,” Rose Richards, Bristol City Council Head of Youth and Play Services, told Kyodo News.

“The impact of this exchange has been phenomenal already. Just by giving young people the opportunity to come together and overcome their isolation by developing their social networks, they secure mutual support, self-confidence and self-esteem,” she said.

A group of LGBT Japanese youth are scheduled to travel to Bristol, England in 2009.

The entire trip is set to be the subject of a Japanese documentary by the Japan Broadcasting Co.

On the net: Freedom Youth website is at