India’s fastest woman Dutee Chand is facing a tough battle of acceptance in her family after revealing that she was in a same-sex relationship.
Chand, who won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games, became India’s first high-profile sportsperson to go public about being in same-sex relationship.
“I have been a relationship with a 19-year-old woman from my village for the past five years,” she said.
“She is pursuing her second year of BA in a Bhubaneswar college. She is a relative of mine and whenever I come home, I spend time with her. She is a kind of soul-mate for me and I want to settle down with her in the future,” Chand told PTI from Hyderabad, where she is currently training.
A landmark judgement of the Supreme Court last year had made same-sex relationships between consenting adults a non criminal act.
Chand, the 100m national record holder, also said that her parents have not yet raised an objection so far but her eldest sister threatened expel her from the family and send her to jail.
“My eldest sister kind of wields power and authority in my family. She has thrown out my elder brother from home because she does not like his wife,” Chand added.
“She has threatened that same will happen to me. But I am also an adult who has individual freedom. So, I decided to go ahead with this and make it public. My eldest sister feels that my partner is interested in my property. She told me that I’ll be to jail for having this relationship.”
Chand said her partner is free to marry whoever she wants to if she decides to do so. “I will continue my athletics career. I am going to take part in the World University Games next month and hope to qualify for the World Championships later this year. My aim to qualify for next year’s Olympics, so I am training hard,” she said.
While Chand refused to name her partner, she said the Supreme Court judgement on the issue gave her the courage to go public. “My partner also agreed that we should make this public and face whatever repercussions it may bring to us. I believe in individual freedom and right to decide how and with whom I will live my life.”
She said another reason for coming out in the open was to avoid what happened with sprinter Pinki Pramanik, who was accused of rape by her partner. Pramanik was a member of the 2006 Asian Games 4x400m relay gold winning team.
“We didn’t want this kind of situation [what happened with Pramanik] happening in future,” Chand said.
Chand, who was banned for a year by the international athletics federation in 2014 for having higher testosterone levels than permissible, hails from Chaka Gopalpur village at Jajpur district of Odisha. The 23-year-old won a landmark gender case against the International Association of Athletics Federation in an appeal to the Court of Arbitration in 2015. Subsequently, she was allowed to compete the following year.
The CAS suspended the IAAF’s policy on hyperandrogenism for two years. The world body changed the policy, which is applicable only on female athletes competing in the range of 400m to 1500m, leaving out Chand – who competes in 100m and 200m – from its ambit.