Sports Badminton 09 Jan 2018 Gay badminton couple ...

Gay badminton couple enjoy acceptance in India

Published Jan 9, 2018, 3:26 am IST
Updated Jan 9, 2018, 3:26 am IST
Representational image
 Representational image

Chennai: Homosexuality is back on centre stage in India after the decision of the Supreme Court to review the constitutional validity of the law, widely known as section 377, that criminalises gay sex. Although there is a law that forbids gay sex in the country, 2016 Rio Olympics women’s doubles silver medallists Christinna Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter say there has been an overwhelming support for them  in India who know that they are a pair.

Pedersen and Rytter are in India to represent Awadhe Warriors and Ahmedabad Smash Masters respectively in the Premier Badminton League. Pedersen said: “We have got a lot of support from India. Fans who know our story like us. They welcome us. They want to see Kamilla and I play together. I’m really happy about it.”

According to Pedersen, messages of support to the badminton pair have been pouring in ever since they made their eight-year relationship open three months ago. Even fans from Muslim-majority countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia where homosexuality is frowned upon are also sending them messages of love.

“I get a big smile on my face when I learn people still want to support me. After we came out, we were ready to change our schedule if some countries didn’t want to allow us play. But it hasn’t happened so far. We are going to play in Indonesia later this month,” Pedersen said.

While it has been smooth sailing for the badminton pair, it is never easy for top men in sport to come out of the closet. Justin Fashanu, the first openly gay footballer in England, committed suicide in 1998 after being accused of assaulting a teenager. In his suicide note, he had mentioned his fear of not getting a fair trial, claiming the sex was consensual. “It’s tougher for men than women. I don’t know the reason. For example, there is no openly gay man in Danish football,” Pedersen said.

Countless stories have been written about Pedersen and Rytter, almost transforming them into some sort of evangelists seeking acceptance for homosexuality. Pedersen isn’t worried about her sexuality overshadowing her badminton. “I’m not tired about talking about our relationship. I’m still the same Christinna. I’m still the badminton player people know me for the last 10 years,” she said.

Pedersen and Rytter, multiple European champions and former world championship runners-up, kept their relationship under wraps not to let it upstage their badminton careers.



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