Indian sprinter Dutee Chand has revealed she is in a same-sex relationship with her “soulmate”, making her the first openly gay sportsperson in India.
The 23-year-old told India’s Sunday Express she has been in a relationship with a woman from her village in east India.
She said she was encouraged to come out after India’s top court scrapped a colonial-era law banning gay sex last September.
“I have found someone who is my soulmate,” she said.
“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.
Chand is currently in training for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. She did not reveal her partner’s identity to save her from “undue attention”.
“Currently, my focus is on the World Championships and the Olympic Games but in the future I would like to settle down with her,” she said.
Praise from local LGBTIQ activists
Dutee Chand received praise on social media for her comments. Indian equal rights activist Harish Iyer called her a “beacon of hope”.
“@DuteeChand has paved the path for many, by simply standing up for herself,” Chand said.
“The subtlelity and kindness with which @DuteeChand has come out brings dignity to her and her partner.”
Dutee Chand is India’s current national champion in the women’s 100m. She won silver in the 100m and the 200m events at the Asian Games in Jakarta last year.
In 2014, she was banned from competing by the Athletics Federation of India for her hyperandrogenism. It’s a condition that causes naturally high testosterone levels.
But Chand’s legal team challenged the ruling as discriminatory and she won the right to compete in March 2015.
Last week, former A-League player Andy Brennan became the first Australian male soccer player to come out as gay.
He opened up about the mental burden he felt hiding his sexuality, and said sharing his story was a “big weight” off of his shoulders.
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