Holllywood actor Sean Penn will be honoured at January’s Palm Springs International Film Festival for his role in new film Milk.

Milk is a biopic about the life of gay American politician Harvey Milk.

Penn, who is also tipped for an Oscar for his portrayal of the titular character, will receive the Desert Palm Achievement Award.

Past recipients of this award include John Travolta and Daniel Day-Lewis.

Harvey Milk was probably the first out gay male politician in American history.

Known during his lifetime as The Mayor of Castro Street, he is a political icon among gay activists for his ability to build the LGBT community into a grassroots political force.

Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.

In his 11 months in office he sponsored a gay rights bill and helped to defeat a proposition that would have seen openly gay and lesbian teachers sacked.

He was gunned down at City Hall by Dan White, a disgruntled former Supervisor, on November 27th 1978.