Hong Kong tycoon retracts marriage bounty for gay daughter

Hong Kong socialite Gigi Chao (left), with her father, Mr Cecil Chao, a tycoon and owner of public-listed property developer Cheuk Nang. The Hong Kong tycoon who offered millions of dollars to any man who could win the heart of his lesbian daughter s
Hong Kong socialite Gigi Chao (left), with her father, Mr Cecil Chao, a tycoon and owner of public-listed property developer Cheuk Nang. The Hong Kong tycoon who offered millions of dollars to any man who could win the heart of his lesbian daughter says the proposal is now off the table. -- FILE PHOTO: ORIENTAL DAILY NEWS 

HONG KONG - The Hong Kong tycoon who offered millions of dollars to any man who could win the heart of his lesbian daughter says the proposal is now off the table.

But he's still refusing to welcome her long-term female partner into his family, CNN news network reported on Thursday.

In 2012, Mr Cecil Chao, a wealthy real estate developer, offered HK$500 million (S$82 million) to any man who married his daughter.

Later, he doubled that offer.

His 34-year-old daughter Gigi responded by writing him an open letter, published in local newspapers on Wednesday, asking him to come to terms with her sexuality.

She asked her father to treat her partner Sean Eav as "a normal, dignified human being".

The two have been together for nine years and are reported to have married in 2012 in France.

"I know it's difficult for you to understand how I could feel romantically attracted to a woman; I suppose I can't really explain it either. It just happens, peacefully and gently," she wrote in the letter, which was published in the South China Morning Post and circulated to other Hong Kong media.

"If Gigi's said that this is what she chooses, then it's all over," Mr Chao said on Thursday an interview with CNN.

He said the huge sum he had offered to potential suitors "stays in my pocket."

But the 77-year-old tycoon, who has three children but has never married, remained unable to embrace his daughter's love life.

"I can't say I am happy with her choice," he said. "If this is her choice then it's for her."

And he said he wouldn't be welcoming Eav, 46, into his family, despite his daughter's plea, reported CNN.

"I have no intention of mixing my life with her life," Mr Chao said. "But if this is what she wants, then I respect her choice."

He said his daughter, who works at his company, had never told him in person that she was a lesbian. "I saw it in the paper," he told CNN.

"We see each other every day," he said. "We have many occasions to be together, but her private life is hers."

But he also suggested that he was not about to let go of the idea entirely, saying that the offer was over "for the time being."

When asked to elaborate, he said: "Until she changes her mind."

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