Champion sprinter Dutee Chand, 23, has revealed that she is in a relationship with a woman from her rural village in eastern India, Gopalpur, making her the first openly gay professional athlete in the country’s history.
The recent announcement from Chand, a member of India’s national track and field team, comes less than a year after the Indian Supreme Court struck down a ban on consensual gay sex last September. Same-sex marriage remains illegal in the largely conservative country.
“I have always believed that everyone should have the freedom to love,” Chand told The Sunday Express newspaper in India, adding that she hopes to settle down and build a life with her partner following the coming track World Championships and Olympic Games in Tokyo. “There is no greater emotion than love, and it should not be denied,” she said.
Chand is famous not only for her accomplishments as a sprinter, but for her fight for the right to be allowed to compete against other women. In 2014, she was banned from competing by the sport’s governing body due to her hyperandrogenism, a condition that naturally produces high testosterone levels. Chand appealed the ruling, and the ban was overturned in 2015.
She went on to win silver medals at the Asian Games in the 100-meter and 200-meter events last year.
Read the full story at The New York Times.