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Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Merkel will not bend EU rules for Britain (Financial Times)

The union will always be a club that the UK does not lead, says Philip Stephens. 

2. Our economy’s getting bigger, but not better (Daily Telegraph)

Self-congratulation over Britain’s growth figures masks a crippling productivity problem, writes Jeremy Warner. 

3. There was no conspiracy. It was a cock-up (Times)

We should not over-react to an administrative error by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, writes Jonathan Powell. 

4. Free schools will stumble – the test is how well they recover (Daily Telegraph)

Michael Gove’s academies have their critics, but new schools are as likely to fail as new companies, says Fraser Nelson. 

5. Dave is utterly deluded if he thinks the Iron Chancellor's going to help end his Euro nightmare (Daily Mail)

Merkel's determination that Germany should continue leading the EU according to her iron-rod agenda was predictable to all — except to a few wildly optimistic souls, writes Simon Heffer. 

6. Labour and Ed Miliband disagree about party prospects (Daily Telegraph)

Labour HQ doubts the party can get an election majority, but the leader is more bullish, writes Isabel Hardman.

7. Politics, not law, has become the master of British justice (Guardian)

 From amnesties for the IRA to calls for the Woolwich murderers to be lynched, crime and punishment is now a politicised mess, writes Simon Jenkins. 

8. A symptom of broken Britain is fixed at last (Times)

Teen pregnancy is falling, thanks to decisions made 15 years ago, says Philip Collins. That’s how long it takes to tackle big social problems.

9. While politicians bicker over self-serving definitions of poverty, a simple measure of ‘need’ is being overlooked (Independent)

The obvious place to start is with the consumption of food, writes Andreas Whittam Smith. 

10. First world war bravery was not confined to the soldiers (Guardian)

As we mark the conflict, we must not forget those who were ridiculed, jailed and worse for daring to fight for peace, writes Priyamvada Gopal.

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"There's nowhere to turn": What it's like to be gay and homeless

Many LGBTQ homeless people cannot ask their families for help. 

Ascania is a 41 mother with a 24 year-old son, who came to the UK from Jamaica in 2002. “I was raped at gunpoint in the area I lived in Jamaica," she says. "They’d found out in the community that I’m a lesbian. They hit the back of my head with a gun- sometimes it is still painful. I had to move from that area, then I went to another part of the island. I lived there for 18 months. People in these communities start to watch you – to see if there are men coming to see you. They begin to be suspicious. Luckily I had a chance to come to the UK before something else happened."

A friend, who was also gay, paid for a ticket for her to reach the UK. She started a relationship, and moved in with her girlfriend, but the girlfriend turned abusive. "It was a nightmare," she remembers. "It ended then I started to sofa surf. Sometimes I would go into pubs meet different girls, go back with them, and sleep over just so I had somewhere to spend the night."

Eventually, Ascania received help from St Mungo's, a homelessness charity, after the LGBT charity Stonewall put her in touch. The charity helped her get food from a food bank, and find somewhere to stay. 

While all homeless people can struggle with physical and mental challenges, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people face extra stigma, discrimination, and rejection by their families.

“That’s why I think LGBTQ projects are important," says Ascania. "From being on the gay scene, I meet all these people and they don’t know about the support available. They’re out there having a really rough time. They don’t know where to turn."

She feels that in shared accommodation, people like herself can be judged for their friends. 

Homeless charities point out that transgender people are particularly at physical risk due to a lack of acceptance and are sometimes turned away from shelters.

Melissa is a trans women in her early 40s. She is now living in transgender accommodation in London provided by the charity St Mungo’s and says she is successfully engaged with drug and alcohol services and rebuilding relationships with her family.

Before beginning her transition she was married with two teenage children and had been in trouble with the police. 

She says the stress of denying her true self led to self-destructive behaviour.

She said: “I was sleeping rough, in graveyards and stairwells. In 2012 I went to prison for nine months. My probation officer put me in touch with St Mungo’s and now I have a really nice place and I hope to become a project worker with the charity. I can see a path forward.”

According to Homeless Link, a national membership charity for organisations working with people who become homeless in England, the causes of homelessness include poor and unsuitable housing, insecurity in the private rented sector, transitioning/leaving accommodation or institutions such as prison, and loss of employment. These circumstances are often coupled with mental health issues, experience of trauma, relationship breakdown, and fleeing domestic violence or abuse.

Awareness of the specific needs of LGBT homeless people is starting to enter mainstream politics. Last month, LGBT Labour passed a motion at its AGM to affiliate to the Labour Campaign to End Homelessness (LCEH). The two organisations will hold a joint event at Labour's annual conference in the autumn.

Sam Stopp, a Labour councillor in Wembley, is chair of LCEH. He said party activists launched the campaign two years ago, because they wanted to do more than talk about the problem. He said: “LGBT homelessness has some specific aspects. If your parents do not support you and you are thrown out of your home that may require a different approach to help people rebuild their lives. There’s not just an economic reason but your sexuality has closed them off.”

Stopp hopes that by aligning Labour activists with homelessness charities, his organisation will be able to provide practical support to people who need it. 

Chris Wills from LGBT Labour’s National Committee, and chair of LGBT Labour North West, said: “The homelessness crisis is worsening. I live in Manchester, where every day I see more and more people sleeping rough – and that’s just the ones we know about, let alone the “hidden homeless”, who are reliant on hostels or going from one friend’s couch to another’s floor night after night.

“This year marks fifty years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, and huge advances were made for LGBT equality under Labour between 1997 and 2010. Society as a whole has become more tolerant. Yet even now, coming out as LGBT to your family can still often result in you being kicked out onto the streets, or forced to flee the family home due to verbal and physical abuse.”