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India’s first openly-LGBTI athlete is Cosmopolitan cover star

India’s first openly-LGBTI athlete is Cosmopolitan cover star

India's first openly-LGBTI athlete Dutee Chand on the cover of Cosmopolitan. (Photo: Instagram)

India’s first openly-LGBTI athlete, Dutee Chand, graces the cover of Cosmopolitan’s July issue this month.

The bisexual sprinter made headlines last month when she revealed her relationship with another woman.

The 2018 Asian Games silver medalist was the first Indian sports star to publicly admit being in a same-sex relationship.

‘In an exclusive interview with Cosmo India, Dutee opens up about her journey as an athlete, her coming-out story, and more’ Cosmopolitan wrote in an Instagram post.

The cover shows Chand on what appears to be a running track. She is wearing running gear and a frilly rainbow jacket.


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Ace sprinter @duteechand is the digital cover star of our July 2019 issue. Recently, she became the first Indian sportsperson to openly declare that she’s in a same-sex relationship. In an exclusive interview with Cosmo India, Dutee opens up about her journey as an athlete, her coming-out story, and more. Issue on stands now. ✨ Editor: Nandini Bhalla (@nandinibhalla) Fashion Stylist: Zunaili Malik (@zunailimalik) Photographer: Sushant Chhabria (@sushantchhabria) Hair & Makeup: Maniasha at Faze Management (@bymaniasha) Interview: Sreeparna Mazumder (@sreeparna.mazumder) Dutee is wearing sports bra: Superdry Sports (@superdryindia); shorts, Fila (@filaindia); cape: Namrata Joshipura (@namratajoshipura) . . . . . . #DuteeChand #OnlyInCosmo #CosmoIndia #lgbtq #pride #loveislove

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An athlete coming out

Chand is the current national champion in the women’s 100-meter event. She is also looking to take part in the next Olympics.

‘I believe everyone should have the freedom to be with whoever they decide they want to be with; she said when she came out.

‘I have always supported the rights of those who want to be in a same-sex relationship. It is an individual person’s choice.’

Dutee also explained her eldest sister strongly opposes her relationship.

‘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 same will happen to me,’ she explained.

Chand then added: ‘She feels that my partner is interested in my property. She has told me that she will send me to jail for having this relationship.’

‘But I am also an adult who has individual freedom. So, I decided to go ahead with this and make it public.’

What’s more, people in her home village said her coming out was ‘humiliating’. Chand hails from the Chaka Gopalpur, a village in the state of Odisha in eastern India.

One person in Chaka Gopalpur said villagers could not support Chand’s relationship. ‘It’s humiliating for all of us,’ Prashant Behra said.

LGBTI rights in India

India’s Supreme Court in September last year ruled the country’s anti-gay law was unconstitutional.

Section 377 of India’s colonial-era Penal Code punished gay sex with up to 10 years in prison. But, the Supreme Court said it violated rights to privacy.

Indians, therefore, celebrated the decriminalization of an estimated 4.5 million LGBTI people.

Despite last year’s landmark decriminalization, LGBTI people in India face discrimination in nearly all aspects of life.

They are often denied access to housing by the government and the private sector, forcing them to live segregated from society.

They face harassment from landlords, family members, neighbors, and even the police.

In the world of work, employers often discriminate against LGBTI employers during recruitment. LGBTI workers are often dismissed because of their sexuality or gender identity.

India currently does not protect LGBTI people with anti-discrimination legislation.

What’s more, the transgender population has slammed a government bill purported to protect their rights.