Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
  • Home > News > Ugandan activist's Human Rights Awards

Ugandan activist's Human Rights Awards


Aids Alliance

Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) is to receive both the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award, and the 2011 Rafto Prize for Human Rights on behalf of SMUG.

These two prestigious awards, which will be given in November, are recognition of the work Frank has done as one of the few openly gay LGBTI activists in a dangerously hostile climate. As a spokesperson for the movement, he amplifies the voice of one of the most vulnerable groups in the country.

Homosexuality is a criminal offence in Uganda, and the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill would make homosexual activities punishable by life in prison, and, in certain cases, by death. In January 2011 David Kato, a former advocacy and litigation officer for SMUG, was murdered.  It is believed that Kato was targeted for his role in the Ugandan LGBTI movement.

“For me, it is about standing out and speaking in an environment where you are not sure if you will survive the next day; it is this fear that makes me strong, to work hard and fight on to see a better life for LGBTI persons in Uganda,” said Frank. “The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award and Rafto Prize give me courage and hope that my work, which may not be accepted and recognized in my own country, is making a change with this international visibility.”

“Frank Mugisha has fought courageously in support of the rights of sexual minorities in Uganda, despite death threats and even exile,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. “He has become a leading advocate for sexual minorities in a country where they are persecuted, jailed, and their lives destroyed.”

SMUG works with Community Health Alliance Uganda, who are supported by the Alliance and Frank visited the UK secretariat office in May this year. You can read more about Frank and the work of SMUG in this ‘Postcard from the Field’ on DFID’s website.


The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award honours courageous and innovative individuals striving for social justice throughout the world. Each year, the RFK Center awards an individual whose courageous activism is at the heart of the human rights movement and in the spirit of Robert Kennedy.

The Rafto Prize for Human Rights is awarded annually to advocates of human rights and democracy. The prize commemorates Thorolf Rafto, professor of economic history at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen. Professor Rafto devoted his life to promoting democracy and respect for human rights.

    Frank is a leading advocate for sexual minorities in a country where they are persecuted, jailed, and their lives destroyed