Dutee Chand has declared that she is in a same-sex relationship; she should be applauded for her bravery
Same-sex relationships in India have only recently become legal after the Supreme Court read down the infamous Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code last year. That was a long time coming and it finally allowed those with alternative sexual choices, rather non-heterosexual ones, to come out in the open without fear of harassment by the authorities. However, many people who have such sexual orientation still do not step out of the closet because of fear of ridicule, a loss of prestige and in many cases a genuine fear for their physical safety. For public personalities it is even tougher; coming out might mean abuse from co-workers (teammates in the case of athletes), fans, sponsors and being boxed in an image trap. And while we would like to believe that attitudes have moved on, the fact is that they have not. Not even in the developed world where same-sex marriage is a right enshrined by law. Therefore, ace sprinter Dutee Chand’s decision to declare her sexuality and say that she has been in a long-term gay relationship should be welcomed. This will give hope and courage to others who are scared and not as privileged. Dutee herself risked ostracisation, coming as she does from the conservative interiors. While her family has threatened to disown her, fans and sponsors must stand by her and become her new family. That she chose to make the revelation during training for the World Athletics championship proves that sexuality is her private right and freedom and has nothing to do with her unwavering focus on sports. She was as committed to chasing excellence in a discipline that shaped her identity.
We have always believed what consenting adults do is their business and old social mores have to change in the modern world. India always seems like a country which has one foot stuck in the past and one in the future, but we cannot let our social values continue to be determined by laws from Victorian times. Therefore, not only should people like Dutee be allowed to love anyone they want to, going forward, India should look at modifying its marriage laws to allow for gay unions as well, just like Taiwan did recently. India can surprise people at times. It has, for example, accepted a one-time adult pornstar as a genuine Bollywood star today. So why can’t we now move forward on this front as well? Sexuality has to be normalised in discourse. Social progress cannot be determined by those who claim to stick to “Indian cultural values” because these have mutated and Dutee is a shining example.
Courtesy: The Pioneer