Pic: Athletics Federation of India
Dutee Chand, who made history by coming out as India’s first openly LGBTQ athlete, is facing a backlash from members of her own village.
Chand, 23, recently revealed she was inspired by last year’s decriminalisation of homosexuality in India to announce that she’d been in a relationship with a young woman for the past five years.
“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,” she said.
The news was reported around the world but has been met with scorn and anger from her community in the village of Chaka Gopalpur as well as members of her family.
“What she is doing is immoral and unethical. She has destroyed the reputation of our village,” Chand’s father said, reported the Independent.
According to The Guardian, Chand’s mother added: “We belong to a traditional weaver community, which does not permit such things. How can we face our relatives and society?”
Another villager was quoted as saying: “It’s humiliating for all of us. We have supported her all the way in her running but we cannot accept this relationship. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman. She should never have talked about it to the whole world. She should stick to running.”
Chand is the current national champion in the women’s 100 metres event and won two silver medals at the Asian Games in 2018. She is the third Indian woman to ever qualify for the Women’s 100 metres event at the Summer Olympic Games.
In September last year, India’s Supreme Court ruled that the colonial era Section 377 law criminalising consensual adult homosexuality was unconstitutional and discriminatory.