Villagers in the home village of India’s first out athlete say her coming out was ‘humiliating’.
Dutee Chand made international headlines in May when she revealed her female partner was her soulmate, making her the first openly LGBTI athlete in India. She is the current national 100m sprint champion.
In her coming out, the bisexual sprinter expressed concern that her family and local village might not accept her and that has proven right.
Chand’s mother said the family would struggle to face villagers after the 23-year-old’s coming out.
‘I had been supporting her all along for her special interest in sports but … we belong to a traditional weaver community, which does not permit such things. How can we face our relatives and society?’ she told the Indian Express.
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.
‘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’s partner has since fled the village in fear of violence and after facing criticism from locals.
India decriminalized homosexuality in 2018, a move advocates had would improve the attitude towards the LGBTI community.
But violence and discrimination still exist. Just a few days after Chand came out, villagers in another Odisha town tied a woman to a tree and beat her after finding out she was in a relationship with another woman.