President’s Daughter Hopes Coming Out Will Change Anti-Gay Laws

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By Basillioh Rukanga, BBC News

Brenda Biya, daughter of Cameroon’s president, has publicly come out as a lesbian, expressing her hope that this revelation will help change the country’s laws banning same-sex relations.

Public Revelation

Biya, 27, shared an image of herself kissing Brazilian model Layyons Valença on Instagram, stating, “I’m crazy about you & I want the world to know.” This post has sparked mixed reactions in Cameroon.

Interview with Le Parisien

In an interview with France’s Le Parisien newspaper, Biya revealed that she had not informed her family before publishing the post. She described coming out as an opportunity to send a strong message against the country’s anti-gay laws, which she called “unfair.”

Personal Background

Paul Biya, Brenda’s father, has been Cameroon’s president since 1982. Brenda, a musician living abroad, has been in a relationship with Valença for eight months and has taken her to Cameroon three times without revealing their relationship to her family.

Family Reactions

Brenda’s brother was the first to call her, expressing anger over the public post. Her parents, President Paul Biya and First Lady Chantal Biya, later called and asked her to delete the post. Since then, Brenda said, communication has been minimal.

Support and Criticism

Since coming out, Brenda has received both supportive and negative reactions. She expressed her desire to inspire others and provide hope and love to those suffering because of their sexual orientation. Rights groups have praised her courageous move, though some argue that coming out is a privilege not available to all in Cameroon.

Legal and Social Implications

Same-sex relations in Cameroon are illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison. There has been no official comment from the president or the first lady. A government source told French broadcaster RFI that the matter concerns the “private life of an adult residing outside the country and does not in any way concern Cameroon or the head of state.”

Rights Groups’ Reactions

Rights groups have commended Brenda’s revelation, but there are concerns about the disparity in how anti-LGBT laws are enforced. Activist Bandy Kiki noted that these laws disproportionately target the poor, while wealth and connections provide a shield for some.

Legal Action

On Tuesday, a group supporting the current laws filed a complaint against Brenda Biya to the public prosecutor. Philippe Nsoue from the DDHP Movement stated that no one, including the president’s daughter, is above the law and that judicial recourse should be sought for actions against the country’s LGBT laws.

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