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Monday, July 15, 2024

Brenda, daughter of the president of Cameroon, reveals her lesbian status

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Brenda, daughter of Cameroonian President Paul Biya, has revealed that she is in a same-sex relationship with Brazilian model Layyons Valença.

This revelation is particularly surprising given Cameroon’s strict law that criminalizes same-sex relationships with sentences of up to five years in prison and significant fines.

President Paul Biya, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders since 1982, has been outspoken against gay rights, adding to the impact of Brenda’s public display.

In an Instagram post, the 26-year-old rapper shared an intimate photo of herself hugging model Layyons Valença.

Accompanying the image was a caption expressing her deep affection for her Brazilian partner.

Brenda wrote: “I’m crazy about you and I want the world to know it,” along with a black heart emoji, tagging the model.

A check by PREMIUM TIMES shows that comments on the post have been disabled, suggesting a preventive measure against possible critical comments or negative reactions.

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This isn’t the first time the duo has been spotted together; they’ve shared photos and videos in previous posts.

In another post on June 6, Brenda posted to Valença with the caption: “I would give you the world, but there are other planets too.”

Speaking to the Cameroon News Agency, the rapper responded to a comment that pointed out that her father is President Paul Biya, who is known for his staunch anti-LGBT+ stance in Cameroon.

Acknowledging her father’s long-standing policies that criminalized homosexuality and same-sex activities during his four decades in power, the president’s daughter expressed optimism for future change in Cameroon.

“No one will have anything to say because only love will triumph,” he said, adding: “I do not approve of hatred; I think the mentality must change, but it will change once people are ready.”

Cameroon’s anti-LGBTQ laws

Cameroon is in the same league as African countries such as Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa, which have severe laws against homosexuality. However, Cameroon’s version of the laws is one of the strictest in Africa.

The 2016 Penal Code “criminalizes same-sex relationships, with penalties including up to five years in prison and fines of up to 200,000 CFA francs (about $340).”

According to Human Dignity Trust’s country profile, Cameroon’s first Penal Code, in 1965, did not criminalise homosexual relations. However, an amendment introduced in 1972 added the offence of “homosexuality”, which has remained in place until now.

This law is directed against any action that is perceived as promoting or encouraging homosexual conduct.

The Cameroonian authorities enforce this law very harshly. Police often arrest people suspected of being LGBTQ+ based on minimal evidence or accusations from neighbours. These arrests often result in public humiliation and discredit, creating a climate of fear for LGBTQ+ people.

Reports include physical violence, beatings, torture and sexual violence, especially in police custody. Detainees often face inhumane treatment aimed at forcing them to confess or punishing them for their sexual orientation.

Human rights groups have called on Cameroon to repeal its anti-LGBTQ laws. International organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have consistently urged the international community to pressure Cameroon to change laws and policies on the rights of LGBTQ+ people.

Despite this call, the National Communication Council actively censors media content that portrays or supports LGBTQ+ issues.

Media channels have been suspended for violating these policies and the government has rejected international efforts to discuss LGBTQ+ rights, maintaining a strict stance against any form of acceptance or protection for the gay community.

Mixed reactions

Brenda’s public disclosure has sparked a broader conversation about LGBTQ+ rights and the enforcement of anti-gay laws in Cameroon.

The social media post quickly generated mixed reactions.

While some praised Brenda for her bravery, others criticized her and accused her of taking advantage of her privileged status as the president’s daughter. Critics have argued that her position grants her a level of protection not enjoyed by ordinary citizens.

Bandy Kiki, a UK-based Cameroonian lesbian activist, also took to Twitter to share the disparity in how anti-LGBT laws are enforced: “I love this for Brenda Biya (Cameroon’s first daughter). However, it highlights a harsh reality.”

Activist Kiki noted that Brenda’s influential position grants her certain privileges, noting that Brenda’s ability to speak openly about her girlfriend without facing significant consequences “highlights a harsh reality: anti-LGBT laws in Cameroon disproportionately target the poor.

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

Despite the backlash, Brenda received support from the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.

Cameroonian transgender activist Shakiro, who was sentenced to five years in prison for “attempted homosexuality,” also commented on Brenda’s decision.

According to BBC News, she described the president’s daughter’s post as “a potential turning point for LGBTQ+ visibility in the country.”

Human rights groups have long criticized Cameroon’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues.

Cameroon’s National Communication Council is known to have taken steps to censor media content that portrays homosexuality and has suspended channels that violate this policy.

In 2023, the government rejected a conference on gender and sexual orientation proposed by the French ambassador for LGBTQ+ rights, reinforcing its hardline stance.

READ ALSO: Cameroon launches world’s first malaria vaccine

So far, the Cameroonian government and President Paul Biya have yet to issue an official statement or comment on Brenda’s post.

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