Dutee Chand, already known as India’s fastest woman and as someone who fought and won the right to compete despite high testosterone levels, broke another barrier this weekend: she came out as lesbian, telling reporters she’s in love with another woman.
“I have found someone who is my soulmate,” she told The Sunday Express. Chand, 23, is the first Indian sports star to acknowledge being in a same-sex relationship.
Her heart belongs to a girl from her hometown, she said, someone she’s known for five years. For now, her identity remains a closely-held secret, because she doesn’t want her soulmate to become “the center of undue attention.”
The Indian Supreme Court’s historic decision to decriminalize gay sex in 2018 encouraged her to speak publicly about her sexuality, she said.
“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. I will continue to strive to win medals for India at international meets.”
The sprinter is the 100m record holder and won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games.
Chand said she’s putting off any formal plans with her girlfriend since she is currently in training.
“Currently, my focus is on the World Championships and the Olympic Games but in the future I would like to settle down with her,” said Chand.
India does not recognize same-sex marriage but symbolic civil unions are not prohibited by law.
Unfortunately, the BBC reported that some members of Chand’s family do not accept her decision to come out, and her sister has threatened to expel her from the family. And more.
”My eldest sister feels that my partner is interested in my property. She has told me that she will send me to jail for having this relationship,” Chand told PTI news agency. Again, while marriage is outlawed, being gay or being in a same-sex relationship is legal in India.
Her sister ought to know, Chand is not one to go down without a fight.
In 2015, Dutee successfully fought the International Association of Athletics Federations’ rules on hyperandrogenism, which banned her from competing with women athletes in track and field, according to their testosterone levels. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in her favor.
Those IAAF rules led India’s Commonwealth Games team to drop her in 2014, after officials claimed her testosterone levels were too high. But the IAAF withdrew its rules on the 100m and 200m last year, which allowed her to run, and win, unlike Caster Semenya, the South African woman and double-Olympian who is banned from competing in the 800m unless she either suppresses her natural testosterone or competes as a man. Semenya plans to appeal.