May 22, 2019 at 3:23 pm EDT | by Mariah Cooper
Sprinter Dutee Chand comes out as India’s first openly gay athlete
Dutee Chand. (Photo by Victuallers via Wikimedia Commons)

Dutee Chand has come out as gay making her the first openly gay professional athlete in India.

The 23-year-old professional sprinter opened up to the Indian Express that she is in a relationship with a woman from her village in eastern Odisha state. She did not reveal the identity of her partner due to “undue attention”.

“I have found someone who is my soulmate. 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,” Chand says.

Chand has won two silver medals at the Asian Games and will compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I am in a same-sex relationship and I don’t think there is anything wrong in it. For the moment my focus will be on my career with the world championships and Olympics coming up. In future after the end of my sporting career, if my heart says that I should stay with her then I will,” Chand continued.

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