President’s daughter hopes to help Cameroon’s gays by coming out

By Amindeh Blaise Atabong

YAOUNDE (Reuters) – The daughter of Cameroon’s president said she hoped that by coming out as a lesbian she can help change laws that ban homosexuality in the country.

Brenda Biya, who lives between the United States and Switzerland, came out in an Instagram post on June 30.

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Parisien published on Tuesday, the 27-year-old said she had not come out to her family before she publicly posted a photo of her kissing her girlfriend.

“There are plenty of people in the same situation as me who suffer because of who they are,” she said. “If I can give them hope, help them feel less alone, if I can send love, I’m happy.”

Same-sex relations are punishable by up to five years in prison under Cameroon’s penal code.

Her father, Paul Biya, 91, who has led Cameroon for four decades, has not publicly commented on the matter.

Brenda Biya said the law punishing gay sex existed before her father came into power in 1982, and she hopes her story will lead to change in the legislation.

“It may be too soon for it to disappear completely but it could be less strict. We could first eliminate the prison sentence,” she said in the interview.

Bandy Kiki, a Cameroonian LGBT rights activist based in Britain, said she was happy for Biya, who she said had affirmed the existence of LGBT people in Cameroon.

“However, it highlights a harsh reality: anti-LGBT laws in Cameroon disproportionately target the poor,” she said.

“Wealth and connections create a shield for some, while others face severe consequences.”

(Writing by Portia Crowe, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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