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Cameroon president’s daughter hopes coming out will change anti-gay laws

The daughter of Cameroon’s president has expressed her hope that by coming out as a lesbian, she can help change the law banning same-sex relations in her country.

Brenda Biya shared with Le Parisien newspaper that there are many in her situation, and she aims to inspire them.

The 27-year-old recently posted an image of herself kissing another woman, which elicited mixed reactions in Cameroon.

“I’m crazy about you & I want the world to know,” she wrote in an Instagram post featuring her and Brazilian model Layyons Valença embracing.

In her interview with France’s Le Parisien, she disclosed that she hadn’t told anyone in her family before making the post public.

“Coming out is an opportunity to send a strong message,” she stated.

According to ‘BBC’, she also described the existing anti-gay law, which was in place before her father assumed power, as “unfair and I hope that my story will change it”.

Paul Biya, 91, has led Cameroon since 1982, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

Image Credit: Canva

Ms. Biya revealed that she had been with the Brazilian model for eight months and had brought her to Cameroon three times without informing her family of their relationship status.

Living abroad, the musician said she had received both supportive messages and negative reactions since she announced her relationship.

She expressed her happiness in revealing her status, stating she wanted to give hope and “send love” to those suffering “because of who they are [and] help them feel less alone”.

Ms. Biya recounted that her brother was the first to call her after the post, expressing anger that she had not warned the family beforehand, she told Le Parisien.

Her parents, President Paul Biya and First Lady Chantal Biya, later contacted her, urging her to delete the post. “Since then, it’s been silence,” she noted.

She shared that she experienced her first crush on a girl at 16 but found it challenging to express her feelings due to the situation in her country.

Cameroon’s laws prohibit same-sex relations, which are punishable by up to five years in prison.

Neither the president nor the first lady has publicly commented.

A government official informed the BBC that the authorities had chosen not to comment as it was a family matter.

Rights groups, which have long criticised Cameroon’s anti-gay laws, have lauded Ms. Biya’s coming out as courageous.

However, there are concerns about whether coming out is a privilege reserved for a select few in the country.

“Anti-LGBT laws in Cameroon disproportionately target the poor. Wealth and connections create a shield for some, while others face severe consequences,” LGBT activist Bandy Kiki noted in a Facebook post.

On Tuesday, a group supporting the current laws filed a complaint against Ms. Biya with the public prosecutor.

Philippe Nsoue from the DDHP Movement stated they were seeking justice, emphasizing that although Ms. Biya is the president's daughter, “no-one is above the law”.

“Whenever a Cameroonian citizen or foreigner commits acts that go against the [LGBT] situation in our country, we must seek judicial recourse,” he asserted.

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