The president of the Czech Republic has been criticised over claims he refused to honour an academic with a title because the man in question is also a gay rights activist.

According to the Associated Press, Czech President Milos Zeman has refused to fully explain his stance, saying he doesn’t want to “humiliate” the candidate, Martin Putna, “by naming the reasons publicly.”

President Zeman said he “does not recognise people aspiring to teach at universities” who also attend gay festivals.

On Monday, President Zeman said Mr Putna’s sexual orientation itself is not an issue.

Czech presidents formally appoint the country’s university professors.

Politicians and universities have criticised President Zeman’s remarks.

The last time that a Czech president did not award a professorship to somebody recommended to him by the universities was in the late 1940s when the Communist party was dominating the education establishment.

Compared to other central European countries, the Czech Republic is considered relatively progressive on LGBT issues.

Although equal marriage is not currently legal, the country does recognise same-sex partnerships and has a number of anti-discrimination laws in place.