Many have expressed their outrage as news of a Hong Kong billionaire’s offer of a whopping HK$500 million (US$65 million) "marriage bounty" for a man who can win his lesbian daughter’s heart went viral earlier this week. Gigi Chao, the 33-year-old daughter of Cecil Chao, has however responded to the media with poise and rationalised her father's announcement as "an expression of his fatherly love."
The younger Chao read aloud several of the thousands of proposals she had received in a video interview and joked that she had thought of some as being "quite entertaining". In an interview broadcast by CNN and other media outlets, she said that she has a close relationship with her father and understood his reasons, and that she’s a “really lucky girl to have such a loving daddy.”
"I wasn't angry at all. I was really quite touched, very touched and very moved, by daddy's announcement. I mean, it's really his way of saying 'baby girl, I love you. You deserve more,' basically," she said.
"It's not that he can't accept me," she told The Telegraph. "It's that he can't accept how society would view me and the status that it would incur. Marriage is still a form of social status."
She added: "At first I was entertained by it, and then that entertainment turned into the realisation and conviction that I am a really lucky girl to have such a loving daddy, because it's really sweet of him to do something like this as an expression of his fatherly love."
Her father’s offer of the reward to a suitable son-in-law came after recent media reports that the younger Chao and her female partner Sean Yeung had "a church blessing” in France. The couple is often seen at high society events in Hong Kong.
“What this whole episode really highlights is that perhaps still, the Chinese – or in fact the Hong Kong mentality – can perhaps tolerate the 'don't ask, don't tell' view of sexuality," Chao, who works as an executive director at her father's listed property development and investment company Cheuk Nang Holdings, was quoted as saying in an interview with the Associated Press. "But as a social statement, it's still very much a sensitive issue."
Same-sex marriage or civil unions are not illegally recognised in Hong Kong although Hong Kong's first openly gay lawmaker Raymond Chan, who was elected this month, has pledged to campaign for it.
For an extended interview, click here.