Sprinter Dutee Chand has said she is in a same-sex relationship, thus becoming the first sportsperson in India to acknowledge being gay.
"I have found someone who is my soulmate. I believe everyone should have the freedom to be with whoever they decide they want to be with. I have always supported the rights of those who want to be in a same-sex relationship. It is an individual person's choice. Currently, my focus is on the World Championships and the Olympic Games but in the future I would like to settle down with her," Dutee told The Sunday Express.
Dutee said she found the courage to come out after gay sex was decriminalised by the Supreme Court in September 2018, overturning a 2013 judgement that upheld a 157-year-old law dating back to British rule.
"I have always believed that everyone should have the freedom to love," Dutee said. "There is no greater emotion than love and it should not be denied."
She said nobody had the right to judge her as an athlete because of her decision, which should be respected.
"I wanted to be with someone who will encourage me to continue being a sportsperson," she said. "I have been a sprinter for the past 10 years and I will perhaps continue to run for the next five to seven years. I travel around the world to compete. It is not easy. Mujhe kisi ka sahara bhi chahiye (I need someone who will support me on the personal front)."
Dutee won two silver medals at the 2018 Asian Games -- four years after being barred from competing on grounds of hyperandrogenism.