Bhubaneswar: Support continues to pour in for athlete Dutee Chand following her admission of being in a same sex relationship, which did not go down well with her family, this time with a gathering of LGBTQ+ community members from across the country. They organised a solidarity event for the sportsperson in the Odisha capital on Tuesday.
SAATHII, an organisation working for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and for people suffering with HIV-AIDS in the state since 2007, coordinated the event in support of Dutee. Members from different parts of the country, including Mumbai, Chennai and also from the north eastern states, came in to support the ace sprinter.
“I am deeply moved by the support I am getting from different parts of the state as well as the country. We are living in a democratic country and we should not forget that it is our right to choose what is right for us. I have no regrets in accepting my reality and others should also come forward and speak boldly,” said Dutee.
She said that it is her right to choose her partner. “I lived in a hostel and with girls all my life. As I grew older, I also thought of being in a relationship like others. I found that person and told my family about it two years back but they didn’t support me, especially my elder sister,” she said.
After going through depression for a long time, she finally gathered the courage and came out in the open to say that she is in a same sex relationship. “Every person has the right to take a decision. There are others like me too and they should not fear admitting the reality,” Dutee said.
Assistant Director of SAATHII, Biswa Bhusan Pattnaik said, “We need to tell other community members in the state who might be facing oppression and violence based on their sexuality or gender identity. We need to make them aware that support is available in the state for them. Dutee’s move will encourage them to come out in the open,” said Pattnaik.
Besides, members of the community, who were present at the event to support Dutee and people like her, SAATHII has also received videos from different LGBTQ+ members from across the country extending their gratitude to the ace sprinter for standing by her decision.
One such member from Bengaluru said in her video that it is a moment of pride for all in the country to have a sportsperson like Dutee, who is not only a bold athlete but also a courageous person. “Dutee’s step will encourage more and more such people to come out boldly and speak for themselves,” the member said.