Two men were charged with a federal hate crime on Thursday for assaulting a gay man, marking the first time that the law has been applied in a US case alleging homophobia.
The US attorney's office in Lexington, Kentucky, announced the charges against cousins David Jenkins and Anthony Jenkins for the April 2011 attack that left Kevin Pennington with chest, head and other injuries.
They were charged with violating a hate crime law that was expanded in 2009 to cover assaults motivated by prejudice against gays, lesbians and transgender people.
They were also indicted on federal kidnapping, assault and conspiracy charges.
"It's vindicating to see that the years of hard work that went into making sure this law was on the books is now being put into place," said Michael Cole-Schwartz, a spokesman for the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, which pushed for the law's passage.
David and Anthony Jenkins pleaded not guilty.
An FBI affidavit said that they attacked Mr Pennington after he refused to engage in a sex act with David Jenkins.
The men hit him and kicked him while "making anti-homosexual statements," according to the FBI affidavit.
It read: "During the attack the victim was covering his face and they were all screaming 'How do you like this, faggot?'"
Lawyer Kerry Harvey said on Thursday that a conviction on the hate crime charge could see the pair jailed for life.
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