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Gay epithets escalate to fisticuffs in Georgia parliament

Gay epithets escalate to fisticuffs in Georgia parliament

The deputy speaker of parliament in the former Soviet republic of Georgia was beaten Monday by lawmakers he had publicly called gay, legislators said. Members of the United Democrats faction in parliament beat Vakhtang Rcheulishvili, who is the leader of the Socialist Party, after a quarrel in the parliament building escalated into a fight, lawmakers said. Televised footage also showed legislators fighting outside the building. United Democrats spokesman Mikhail Machavariani blamed the incident on Rcheulishvili, saying he had refused to apologize for saying the United Democrats had a "nontraditional sexual orientation," the Interfax news agency reported. Rcheulishvili received head injuries, and another lawmaker suffered an injured hand, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. Interfax said Rcheulishvili required medical treatment. The United Democrats are an opposition group led by former parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania, while the Socialist Party is part of Akhali Sakartvelo, or New Georgia, a recently formed political bloc led by President Eduard Shevardnadze and aimed at carrying pro-government candidates to victory in this fall's parliamentary elections.

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