Building collapse in Wellawatta injures several people

The five storied building which was partly under construction is located near the Savoy cinema in Wellawatta.The Army and Air Force was sent to the area to assist the fire brigade and police in the rescue operations. At least 20 people were injured when a building in Wellawatta collapsed today, the police said.The injured were admitted to the Kalubowila hospital. Several vehicles were also damaged in the incident. (Colombo Gazette)

Christian bakers in gay cake row did not discriminate against samesex marriage

The Christian owners of a bakery have won an appeal at the UK’s highest court over a finding that they discriminated against a customer by refusing to make a cake decorated with the words “Support Gay Marriage”.Five Supreme Court justices allowed a challenge by the McArthur family in a unanimous ruling in London on Wednesday in what has become widely known as the “gay cake case”.The legal action was originally brought against family-run Ashers bakery in Belfast by gay rights activist Gareth Lee, who won his case initially in the county court and then at the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal.Announcing the court’s decision, its president, Lady Hale, said: “This conclusion is not in any way to diminish the need to protect gay people and people who support gay marriage from discrimination.”It is deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity, to deny someone a service because of that person’s race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief.”But that is not what happened in this case.”She went on: “As to Mr Lee’s claim based on sexual discrimination, the bakers did not refuse to fulfil his order because of his sexual orientation.”They would have refused to make such a cake for any customer, irrespective of their sexual orientation.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. In the end the cake supporting gay marriage was made by a different bakery The legal action against Ashers was taken by Mr Lee with support from Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission.Controversy first flared when Mr Lee, a member of the LGBT advocacy group QueerSpace, ordered a cake in 2014 featuring Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia.His order was accepted and he paid in full but, two days later, the company called to say it could not proceed due to the message requested. He said that the ruling made him feel like a “second class citizen” in Northern Ireland, adding: “I think this has consequences for everyone. Anyone can walk into a shop – you shouldn’t have to work out if you’re going to be served based on their religious beliefs. I am confused.”Ashers general manager Mr McArthur thanked God outside court, saying he knew all along he had done nothing wrong. Lady Hale added: “The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage, but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.” Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK or Ireland where same-sex marriage is outlawed, with Prime Minister Theresa May’s DUP allies staunch opponents of changing the law.Reaction: Who is saying what about the ruling? Gareth Lee “We’re particularly pleased the Supreme Court emphatically accepted what we’ve said all along – we did not turn down this order because of the person who made it, but because of the message itself.”The judges have given a clear signal today. In fact it couldn’t be any clearer. Family businesses like ours are free to focus on giving all their customers the best service they can – without being forced to promote other people’s campaigns.”I know a lot of people will be glad to hear this ruling today, because this ruling protects freedom of speech and freedom of conscience for everyone.”On behalf of my family can I say thank you to everyone who has supported us or prayed for us through all this.”We want to move on from this now, and I’m sure Mr Lee does as well. And let me finish by saying that he will always be welcome at any of our shops.”Arlene FosterDUP leader Arlene Foster said the judgment was “historic and seminal”.She tweeted: “This has been a long journey for everyone involved in the case. I commend Amy & Daniel McArthur for their grace and perseverance. This now provides clarity for people of all faiths and none.” Amy and Daniel McArthur, owners of the Belfast bakeryCredit:Eddie Mulholland The court also said Mr Lee had no claim against Ashers on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion, but speaking outside of court, the customer said: “This was never a campaign. I had no idea when I ordered the cake that this would happen.” Gareth Lee In the original court case, the firm was judged to have discriminated against Mr Lee and was ordered to pay damages of £500.Mounting an unsuccessful challenge at the Court of Appeal in Belfast in 2016, Ashers contended that it never had an issue with Mr Lee’s sexuality, rather the message he was seeking to put on the cake.Mr Scoffield told the justices that the case, a simple transaction, raised an issue of principle since those with deeply-held religious or philosophical convictions could be compelled to act against their beliefs.Robin Allen QC, for Mr Lee, said: “This was a relatively small incident in his life which has become enormously significant and continues to be so.”That is a heavy burden to bear for one individual.” Gay rights activist Gareth Lee, who had his request for a cake with a support for same-sex marriage refused by the bakery, said: “To me, this was never about a campaign or a statement. All I wanted was to order a cake in a shop that sold cakes to order.”I paid my money, my money was taken and then a few days later it was refused.”That made me feel like a second-class citizen.”I’m concerned not just for the implications for myself and other gay people, but for every single one of us.”Daniel McArthurOutside court, Ashers general manager Daniel McArthur said: “I want to start by thanking God. He has been with us during the challenges of the last four years. Through the Bible and the support of Christians, He has comforted us and sustained us. He is our rock and all His ways are just.”We’re delighted and relieved at today’s ruling. We always knew we hadn’t done anything wrong in turning down this order. After more than four years, the Supreme Court has now recognised that and we’re very grateful. Grateful to the judges and especially grateful to God. Amy and Daniel McArthur, owners of the Belfast bakery Daniel and Amy McArthur, who have said the law risked “extinguishing” their consciences, were in court for the ruling.Mr Lee was also present for the latest ruling in a case which has attracted enormous attention.The bakery’s appeal against the finding of discrimination was heard at the Supreme Court sitting in Belfast in May.During the hearing the justices were told that the owners were being forced to act against their religious beliefs.David Scoffield QC, for Ashers, argued that the state was penalising the baking firm, with the courts effectively compelling or forcing them to make a cake bearing a message with which they disagree as a matter of religious conscience. The "gay cake" - this one made by another bakery - with the design Support Gay Marriage with the faces of Sesame Streets Bert and Ernie The Rainbow ProjectThe Rainbow Project, Northern Ireland’s largest support organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, expressed its disappointment at the Supreme Court ruling.Director John O’Doherty said: “Ashers agreed to make the cake. They entered into a contractual agreement to make this cake and then changed their mind.”While sympathetic as some may be to the position in which the company finds itself, this does not change the facts of the case.”We believe this is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification. We will however take time to study this judgment by the Supreme Court to understand fully its implications for the rights of LGBT people to access goods, facilities and services without discrimination.”We do not believe that this matter should have been brought to court. We believe that Ashers bakery should have accepted the Equality Commission’s invitation to engage in mediation, where a remedy could have been found without the expense and division surrounding this court case.”However, most damaging of all has been the attempt by politicians to use this case to justify amending the law to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people with the so-called ‘conscience clause.”‘Peter LynasPeter Lynas, director of Evangelical Alliance Northern Ireland, said: “This is a win for everyone, no-one should be forced to say something that they disagree with. Gareth Lee felt ‘like a second-class citizen’Credit:Eddie Mulholland “It is disappointing that this case has been pitched as Christians versus the LGBT community.”This ruling affirms that this was never the case.”The Ashers bakery have served Mr Lee in the past and continue to be willing to serve him again.”Whilst no one should be discriminated against because of any protected characteristic, this judgment is clear that this is not what happened in this case.” read more

Wild salmon stocks hit lowest level on record after disastrous season on

Salmon catches on Scotland’s rivers fell to their lowest level since records began last year, sparking calls for the preservation of the species to become a national priority.Fisheries Management Scotland said official figures to be released by the Scottish Government on Wednesday would confirm that Atlantic salmon are at a “crisis point”.Rod and line catches are believed to have been lower than since records began in 1952, after a disastrous year on famous rivers, including the Tay, the Tweed and the Spey.Alan Wells, chief executive of FMS, which represents the country’s district salmon fishery boards, said: “Figures for 2018, taken together with those of recent years, confirm this iconic species is now approaching crisis point.”Some of the factors impacting on wild salmon stocks may be beyond human control.”But Scotland’s Government and regulatory authorities now have a historic opportunity to do everything in their power to safeguard the species in those areas where they can make a difference.” Anglers gathered at the start of a new season on the Tay this year more in hope than expectationCredit:Jeff Mitchell/Getty He added: “Salmon conservation must become a national priority in what is the International Year of the Salmon.”We are calling on all regulatory authorities urgently to place a renewed emphasis on the crucial importance of salmon conservation. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. salmon fishing Andrew Graham-Stewart, of Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland, said ministers needed to act now to protect salmon and sea trout from the impacts of salmon farming. “There are many examples where positive interventions have already helped, but more must be done.”Mr Wells said ministers and agencies needed to co-ordinate efforts to protect salmon in a way that was currently not happening.In 2017, the total rod catch was put at 49,444 fish, a drop of 20 per cent on the five-year average and the fourth lowest figure on record. Nine out of 10 fish were returned in a bid to help stocks.According to the Atlantic Salmon Trust, wild salmon and sea trout numbers are being “decimated” on their annual migration from Scottish rivers to the waters of Greenland and the Norwegian Sea.For every 100 salmon that leave rivers for the sea, less than five return, marking a decline of nearly 70 per cent in salmon numbers in just 25 years.The trust has launched a project to track young salmon (smolts) going to sea for the first time in bid to learn what happens to them on the journey.Causes for the drop in numbers are thought to include global warming affecting the feeding grounds in the North Atlantic and over fishing at sea. In Scotland’s west coast rivers, the drop in numbers has also been blamed large concentrations of parasitic sea lice in coastal salmon farms. read more