Days after property tycoon Cecil Chao Sze-tsung doubled to HK$1 billion his "dowry" for any man who married his lesbian daughter Gigi Chao, the government took its first step towards protecting Hong Kong's gay and lesbian communities.
A study into the discrimination experienced by sexual minorities has been commissioned by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau.
A bureau spokesman said the study was suggested by the Advisory Group on Eliminating Discrimination against Sexual Minorities, a body established in June last year.
The study, which starts next month, will involve focus group discussions and in-depth interviews and should be complete by the second half of the year.
Connie Chan, of the Women's Coalition, said the study would use current legislation as a reference to investigate discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual people.
The Sex Discrimination Ordinance, enacted in 1995, offers protection in seven areas, including employment, education, housing and participation in government activities. However, while it covers discrimination on the grounds of gender, marital status and pregnancy, it does not cover sexual preference.
Tommy Chen of gay rights movement Rainbow Action, a member of the advisory group, said pressure on sexual minorities often came from parents.
"Parents sometimes condemn their children for failing in their filial duties and ask them to see doctors," he said.
Attacks from family members should not be legislated against, said Chen, but if the government passed anti-discrimination laws regarding sexual preferences, this would send a message that such behaviour should not be tolerated.
Chen said the city should also improve the quality of counselling for sexual minorities, citing the case of one gay man whose partner threatened to "out" him to his boss if he ended their relationship.
"The social worker told the person: why don't you tell your boss about that so you won't be threatened?"
Gigi Chao, who was unhappy about her father's HK$1 billion dowry offer, warned that parents' expectations could cause distress for both themselves and their offspring.
"Respectfully, we can only be true to ourselves, communicate bravely and directly, and be patient. I am confident that we are on the right side of history, so, as they say, it gets better," she said.
"Honestly, I think recognising same-sex relationships is a good start for the lawmakers, instead of sweeping the issue under the carpet and pretending it doesn't exist, which is degrading."
Last year the government faced criticism over its refusal to carry out a consultation on whether to create laws to protect sexual minorities.