Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_94487

Homosexuality is inherited, says psychology study

17 February 2014
Appeared in BioNews 742

Genetics plays a role in male sexual orientation but social and environmental factors are also involved, research suggests.

Scientists tested the DNA of 410 pairs of homosexual twins, making this the largest study of its kind. They found that homosexual men shared genetic markers in a region of chromosome 8, and the Xq28 region of the X chromosome.

The findings were originally presented by Professor Michael Bailey at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics two years ago. They appear to have been resurrected for an event at the periphery of another major conference this year.

'When people say there's a gay gene, it's an oversimplification', said Dr Alan Sanders, who co-led the study. 'It seems like there's a number of genes involved so there's more work to do to narrow things down'.

The results confirm those of a similar study conducted by Dr Dean Hamer, which caused controversy at the time of its publication in 1993. Media attention centred on the prospect of a prenatal test for sexual orientation, with the Daily Mail running the headline: 'Abortion hope after "gay genes" finding'. Last year, Dr Hamer responded that any such test would be 'wrong, unethical and a terrible abuse of research'.

Professor Bailey conceded the possibility that his research could 'one day lead to a pre-natal test for male sexual orientation', though noted that such a test would not be very accurate. 'Clearly parents should not be allowed to torture or kill babies. But they can currently choose to terminate a pregnancy early on, so they should be allowed to have as much information on the future child as possible'.

Dr Qazi Rahman, a psychologist at King's College London, who was not involved with the study, said that the results were important for our understanding of male sexual orientation.

'This is not controversial or surprising and is nothing people should worry about', he said, speaking to The Guardian. 'All human psychological traits are heritable, that is, they have a genetic component. So we need to do "gene finding" studies like this [...] to have a better idea where potential genes for sexual orientation may lie'.

He added that, in his opinion, genetics explained '30 to 40 percent of the variation between people's sexual orientation'.

The findings have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.
SOURCES & REFERENCES
Being gay IS in your genes, say scientists in controversial new DNA study
Daily Mail |  14 February 2014
Being homosexual is only partly due to gay gene, research finds
Daily Telegraph |  13 February 2014
Genome-wide linkage scan of male sexual orientation
American Society of Human Genetics |  2012
Male homosexuality influenced by genes, US study finds
Independent |  14 February 2014
Male sexual orientation influenced by genes, study shows
The Guardian |  14 February 2014
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
2 September 2019 - by Dr Helen Robertson 
The largest study to date into the genetic basis of sexuality has found that there is no single gene associated with same-sex sexual behaviour...
12 October 2015 - by Dr Ashley Cartwright 
Researchers in the USA have developed an epigenetic test which they claim can predict whether a man is gay or straight with 67 percent accuracy...
12 January 2015 - by Jenny Sharpe 
'Darwin, you've got some explaining to do!'...
24 November 2014 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
Two regions of the human genome have been linked to homosexuality in the largest study on the topic to date...
17 December 2012 - by Dr Nicola Davis 
Homosexuality is inherited, not through genes, but through 'epi-markers', a study based around mathematical modelling suggests...
12 July 2010 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
In August, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism will publish an article on a consensus reached by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and many others, regarding the use of dexamethasone (dex), a steroid used to treat a genetic condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), which can affect one in 15,000 babies...
26 August 2008 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The California Supreme Court unanimously held, last Monday, that a doctor's religious beliefs will not be lawful justification for refusing to treat homosexuals. Physicians who have a religious objection to treating homosexuals will be in contravention of anti-discrimination law if they do not provide equal medical services...
18 October 2004 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
Gay genes' have been in the news again this week. An Italian team of researchers has attempted to explain how such genes could be passed on from one generation to the next. The answer, it seems, is that the female relatives of gay men tend to have more children than...
HAVE YOUR SAY
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.