Written bySiddhant Pandey ·
Sprinting champion Dutee Chand became the first Indian athlete to come out as queer. Chand (23) on Sunday revealed that she is in a same-sex relationship with a woman.
Chand, the national champion in the women's 100 meters event, however, did not disclose her partner's identity to avoid her becoming "the center of undue attention."
Read on to find out more details.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Chand revealed, "I have found someone who is my soulmate. I believe everyone should have the freedom to be with whoever they decide they want to be with. I have always supported the rights of those who want to be in a same-sex relationship."
Chand said she decided to come out after the Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality last year.
On September 6 last year, the Supreme Court in its landmark ruling read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), decriminalizing homosexuality. Before the ruling, under Section 377, sexual activities "against the order of nature," were a non-bailable offense.
"It is an individual person's choice. Currently, my focus is on the World Championships and the Olympic Games but in the future, I would like to settle down with her," Chand said.
She added, "I believe nobody has the right to judge me as an athlete because of my decision to be with who I want. It's a personal decision, which should be respected."
Chand says she will continue to bring India glory and will "strive to win medals for India at international meets." She is currently preparing for the World Championships, following which, she will be training for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Chand revealed that her partner is also from her hometown in Odisha. Chand, whose parents are weavers in the Jajpur district, hails from the Chaka Gopalpur village.
She became the national champion in the under-18 category in 2012, finishing a 100 meters event in 11.8 seconds.
She also won two 2018 Asian Games silver medals, in women's 100 meters and 200 meters events.
In 2015, Chand became the first person to win a case in the Court of Arbitration for Sports, over International Association of Athletics Federation's policy on hyperandrogenism. As per the rule, women with high natural levels of testosterone in women were not allowed to compete.
Chand's coming out is a great step for India, where a lack of LGBTQ+ visibility is commonplace.
Despite decriminalization, the LGBTQ+ community still faces invisibilization, and discrimination, issues that are yet to be addressed.
In April, a petition seeking civil rights for LGBTQ+ dismissed by the SC.
Hence, we need more queer voices on the fore and Dutee is helping pave the way.
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