Czech President Miloš Zeman has provoked a storm of criticism from academics, politicians and journalists by refusing a request from Charles University in Prague to confer the title of professor on literary historian Martin C. Putna.

The head of state has said that he has doubts about promoting the popular author of Homosexuality and Catholicism, because of his liberal opinions and participation in the Prague Pride gay parade.

“The president’s role in university appointments is a purely ceremonial one. The ritual signing of decrees [...] is a legacy of the Austro-Hungarian empire,” points out Lidové noviny, which believes that Zeman has exceeded his mandate.