Ugandan Gay Activist Wins RFK Human Rights Award; Blames American Evangelicals for Spreading Homophobia

By BRETT ZONGKER | November 10, 2011 | 4:15 AM EST

Frank Mugisha of Uganda poses in front of a painting of Robert F. Kennedy, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011, in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A leading gay rights advocate in Uganda, where being gay is a crime, is set to receive the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in Washington.

Ethel Kennedy, the widow of the former attorney general, and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry will award the prize to Frank Mugisha at a ceremony Thursday.

The 29-year-old activist has been fighting a bill in Uganda's parliament that would punish gay people with prison or death. It would also threaten jail time for family members, doctors or priests who don't report gays to authorities.

Mugisha blames U.S. evangelicals for promoting homophobia in Uganda.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Mugisha says the Kennedy award sends a message to Uganda and more than 70 countries that criminalize homosexuality that gay rights are human rights.