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Nobel laureate refuses local honour over Poland's LGBT 'rift'

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By Associated Press
Polish writer and Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk  in Duesseldorf, Germany, on Oct. 11, 2019.
Polish writer and Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk in Duesseldorf, Germany, on Oct. 11, 2019.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Nobel Prize-winning writer Olga Tokarczuk has declined an honorary citizenship from the region of Poland where she lives because she would have had to share the honour with a Roman Catholic bishop who has made hostile comments about the LGBT community.

Tokarczuk said in a tweet Friday that while she appreciated being considered, she "sadly" couldn't accept Lower Silesia's honorary citizenship. She said that receiving it at the same time as Bishop Ignacy Dec would highlight the "painful rift" in Poland over LGBT rights.

"I do not want to become an object of such actions and an element in this game," said Tokarczuk, the winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in literature and a vocal supporter of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Dec has repeatedly described the LGBT rights movement as a threat to the Catholic Church and to Poland, which is predominantly Catholic.

Local councillors linked to Poland's centrist opposition Civic Coalition party nominated Tokarczuk as an honorary citizen, while members of the right-wing Law and Justice party that governs the country recommended Dec.

Tokarczuk, who lives in the resident of the southwestern city of Wroclaw, said she was honoured by the recognition but could not accept the honour.

"Instead of being a joyous celebration of a sense of community, it is a vivid illustration of the painful rift in our society," she said.

Poland has produced heated debates over LGBT rights in recent months, including after right-wing President Andrzej Duda described the movement as worse than communism as part of his reelection campaign.