India's Dutee Chand opens up about same-sex relationship: "I have found my soulmate"
Dutee Chand has broken new ground in India by acknowledging that she is gay and in a relationship.
"I am having a relationship with a 19-year-old woman from my village [Chaka Gopalpur] for the past five years", she revealed to the Indian Express.
"I have found someone who is my soulmate. 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." - Dutee Chand
The 23-year-old Olympian says that she has been seeing her partner for 5 years and that she decided to speak publicly about her sexuality after the Indian Supreme Court's historic decision to descriminalise gay sex in 2018.
Chand says she is focused on competing and on Tokyo 2020 for now but: “in the future I would like to settle down with her”.
Despite India's landmark Supreme Court ruling attitudes are changing slowly and Dutee said she has met a lot of resistance, with even members her own family refusing to accept her decision.
Her sister has threatened to expel her from the family.
"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," she told PTI news agency.
Chand became the first Indian sprinter to reach a final at an international athletics event, the World Youth Championships in 2013.
Dutee Chand and Caster Semenya
In 2014 the Athletics Federation of India banned her from competing after failing a hormone test which found she had unusually high testosterone levels, indicating she had hyperandrogenism.
A successful appeal to the court of arbitration for sport (CAS) overturned the ban at a hearing in March 2015.
Dutee Chand who has been the first athlete to challenge the hyperandrogenism regulations, qualified and competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics and in 2018 she won two silver medals at the Asian Games.
The Indian sprinter is following the Caster Semenya case - another athlete with hyperandrogenism - closely, after the South African lost her testosterone case against the IAAF in CAS.
Athletics South Africa has announced they are appealing the Semenya CAS ruling.