Sprinter Dutee Chand has said that she is in a relationship with a woman she has known for a few years, becoming the first Indian athlete to acknowledge being in a same-sex relationship.
The 23-year-old athlete who was born in Chaka Gopalpur in Odisha’s Jajpur district did not identify her “soulmate” but said she is from her hometown, the Indian Express reported.
She said that she gained the courage to speak out about this after the Supreme Court’s historic decision to decriminalize Section 377 which prohibited same-sex relationships.
“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,” she said.
Dutee has long been an outspoken voice against eligibility restrictions for women in athletic events, such as testosterone caps.
Though same-sex relationships are no longer criminal, same-sex marriage is still not legal in India.