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Athlete Dutee Chand faces family expulsion for saying she is gay

May 21, 2019

India's fastest woman Dutee Chand has refused to back down in the face of family pressure after she said she was in a same-sex relationship with a younger relative.

Dutee, 23. who won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games, is one of the few athletes in the world to openly admit she is in a same-sex relationship. She faces a tough battle of acceptance from her family.

I am having a relationship with a 19-year-old woman from my village for the past five years. She is studying B.A. 2nd year 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 future. - Dutee Chand, Athlete

A landmark judgement of the Supreme Court in 2018 has made same sex relationships between consenting adults a non-criminal act. However, marriage between such individuals is still not legal in India.

Dutee, the 100m national record holder says that while her parents have not yet objected to her relationship, her eldest sister has threatened to expel her from the family and send her to jail. "My eldest sister kind of wields power and authority in my family", said Dutee to a news agency. "She has thrown out my elder brother from home because she does not like his wife. She has threatened me 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."

Dutee said she will continue with her 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".

Dutee has refused to name her partner, and 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.

Dutee was banned for one year by the International Athletics Federation in 2014 for having higher testosterone (male sex hormone) level than permissible. She later won a landmark case and was allowed to compete after facing a one year ban.

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