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Sprinter Dutee Chand reveals same-sex relationship, fears run-in with family

Tough battle: Dutee Chand during the Asian Games in Jakarta in this file photo of August, 2018.

Tough battle: Dutee Chand during the Asian Games in Jakarta in this file photo of August, 2018.   | Photo Credit: JEWEL SAMAD

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India’s fastest woman says she may be expelled from home.

Unapologetic about her same-sex relationship with a younger relative, India’s fastest woman Dutee Chand is facing a tough battle of acceptance in her family.

Dutee, who won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games, became one of the few athletes in the world to openly admit to same-sex relationship. “I am having a relationship with a 19-year-old woman from my village for the past five years. She is studying B.A. second 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,” Chand, 23, told PTI from Hyderabad, where she is training.

SC order

A landmark judgment of the Supreme Court last year made same sex relationship between consenting adults a non-criminal act, but marriage between such individuals is still not legal in India.

Dutee, the 100 m national record holder (11.24 seconds), says that while her parents have not yet raised any objection, her eldest sister has threatened not only to expel her from the family but also send her to jail. “My eldest sister kind of wields power and authority in my family. She has thrown out my elder brother from home because she does not like his wife. She has threatened me that the 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,” she said. “My eldest sister feels that my partner is interested in my property. She has told me that she will send me to jail for having this relationship.”

Dutee said her partner was free to marry whoever she wanted to in future.

“I will continue my 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 is to qualify for next year’s Olympics, so I am training hard,” she said.

While Dutee refused to name her partner, she said the Supreme Court’s judgment gave her the courage to go public. “My partner also agreed that we make this public and face whatever repercussions it may have. I believe in individual freedom and right to decide how and with whom I will live my life.”

She said another reason for her to come out in the open was that she did not want to have the fate of sprinter Pinki Pramanik, who was accused of rape by her live-in partner. Pinki was part of the 2006 Asian Games 4x400m relay gold winning team.

“We did not want this kind of situation happening in future,” Dutee said.

Dutee, who was banned for one year by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 2014 for having higher testosterone (male sex hormone) level than permissible, hails from Chaka Gopalpur village in Jajpur district of Odisha. She was born to Chakradhar Chand and Akhuji Chand. Dutee won a landmark ‘gender’ case against the IAAF in an appeal to the Court of Arbitration in 2015, and she was allowed to compete after having been banned for one year. The Court of Arbitration suspended the IAAF’s policy on hyperandrogenism for two years. Later, the world body changed the policy, which applicable only on female athletes competing in the range of 400m to 1500m, leaving out Dutee, who competes in 100m and 200m, from its ambit.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 10:52:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sprinter-dutee-chand-reveals-same-sex-relationship-fears-run-in-with-family/article27179357.ece

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