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Dutee Chand has become India’s first sports star to acknowledge being in a same-sex relationship.
In a landmark judgment in 2018, the Supreme Court of India decriminalised same-sex relationships. The court scrapped Section 377 from the constitution. This historic judgment gave many voices the courage to speak up and star athlete Dutee Chand is one of them.
Dutee Chand is India’s national record holder in the 100m race. She is also the Asian Games silver medalist. The sports star recently said that she is in a same-sex relationship with a women from her hometown in Odisha.
“I have found someone who is my soulmate,” Chand was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. “I believe everyone should have the freedom to be with whoever they decide they want to be with.”
With this Dutee Chand has not only shown her courage but has also given many people the inspiration to speak what their heart wants.
“I am what I am so take me as I am,” CJI Dipak Misra was quoted saying this in the landmark judgment that struck down the arbitrary section 377. Belonging to the LGBTQ+ community is no longer a criminal offence in the country. But, it still takes a lot of courage to come out.
The SC judgment was welcomed and applauded significantly, especially by young people in urban India. This was evident in the series of tweets, hashtags, and posts on social media. This support is also visible in the pride parades organized in various cities.
Yet, Indian society by and large supported this law for a long time, in the name of culture, religion and nature. From our very childhood, society teaches us that a boy is ‘meant’ to be with a girl. All of this in the name of “Prakriti ke usool” (law of nature).
Hence, it’s not hard to believe the fact that this resistance against homosexuality is deeply rooted in our society.
That’s why within a day of the Supreme Court’s historic verdict on section 377, Muslim clerics and functionaries of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board came out in protest. They protested against the order terming homosexuality against religion and humanity.
Apart from this many arguments were made in court in the favour of Section 377. This included the Trust God Ministries which argued that the legalisation of same-sex relations would destroy the family system and corrupt the Indian Culture. There were even claims by the ‘guardians’ of Indian Culture that Homosexuality is a western concept. Many also termed it as a mental disorder which can be treated.
This makes it clear that many people in our society are still not ready to believe in the existence of love between two people belonging to the same gender. Moreover, in may places, individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community face a very real threat of violence, including from their own families. This makes coming out a task of immense courage.
Dutee Chand’s openly accepting her sexuality demonstrates is a ray of light the to many people out there still struggling for acceptance from society.
Society has taken a big step towards acceptance by decriminalizing section 377. Still, we need to become more inclusive. The fear, the prejudices and the tendency to stigmatize every behaviour of an individual to a certain category of ‘good’, ‘bad’, ‘moral’, ‘immoral’ and ‘accepted’ or ‘unaccepted’ should not be there when it comes to an individual’s personal choices. As a society, we need to understand that one’s personal choice is an inextricable part of the right to life and liberty.
Hence alongside with legal provisions, the sense of inclusiveness is what we need to work on now. We need to build an environment where the mind of a person who identifies as homosexual is without fear and the head is held high with pride!
Image via Wikimedia commons
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