23-year-old sprinter Dutee Chand became the first sportsperson in India to come out as queer. She is the first Indian sports star to acknowledge being in a same-sex relationship.
She told The Sunday Express,
“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. It is an individual person’s choice.”
“I have always believed that everyone should have the freedom to love. There is no greater emotion than love and it should not be denied. The Supreme Court of India has also struck down the old law. I believe nobody has the right to judge me as an athlete because of my decision to be with who I want. It is a personal decision, which should be respected.”
Chand holds the national record for the 100m sprint and won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games. Hailing from Chaka Gopalpur village in Odisha, she challenged the International Association of Athletics Federation in 2015 for its policy on high natural testosterone levels in women due to which she was disqualified from 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Chand says she gathered the courage to come out after Supreme Court partially read down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalised same-sex relations between consenting adults.