Harriet Walker: Is a lesbian daughter worth $60m?

Friday 28 September 2012 10:00

How much would you pay to make sure your kids turn out the way you want? Expensive school fees? Piano lessons? A gap year helping poor people in exotic climes, perhaps? Or why not just offer $60m to any man who will agree to wed your daughter? That's Hong Kong tycoon Cecil Chao Sze-Tsung's method anyway. He's hoping the amount will sway at least one willing suitor into the marriage bed of his daughter Gigi Chao.

The thing is, that bed already has someone in it: Gigi's long-term girlfriend Sean Yeung, with whom she reportedly entered a civil partnership in France earlier this year.

Same-sex marriages are not legally recognised in Hong Kong, so perhaps her dad is hoping he can just brush the whole silly little thing under the carpet. Or perhaps, like Queen Victoria, he just doesn't believe lesbianism exists.

Clearly Sze-Tsung is of the old guard. But just how old exactly? It's been a while – at least 400 years? – since anyone offered a dowry of this size, especially for a woman who has made her own choice of partner already. In Hong Kong law, homosexuality was only decriminalised in 1991. That seems relatively late, but one would hope enough time has elapsed since then for everyone there to get their heads around the concept.

Normally parental disappointment with a child's choices in life is reserved for when they get a tattoo, grow a nasty little beard or don't wash often enough. I suppose being a parent is about assuming that you know best. In which case, Sze-Tsung might be justified if he just thought his daughter had chosen the wrong partner – but not simply the wrong gender.

He doesn't seem to show much discernment when it comes to finding her a better one, either. It's rare that a cash prize of any sort brings the morally pure out of the woodwork. Is lesbianism really so awful that the alternative – that is, marrying one's daughter off to a bounty hunter – is more palatable? If I were Gigi, I'd offer a similar amount for someone to take my dad off my hands.

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