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Farewell to the ‘gay gene’ theory

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September 2, 2019

There is no single “gay gene”, according to an article in Science which analyses survey responses about same-sex sexual behaviour and correlates them with genetic data.

The researchers could not find any way to meaningfully predict or identify a person’s sexual behaviour on the basis of their genes. While they did find five genetic variants associated with same-sex behaviour (and many others which may also be involved) at best these genetic differences could only account for between 8 and 25% of variation in same-sex sexual behaviour and could not be used to predict it.

The authors, from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, analysed survey responses and performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on data from over 470,000 people in the UK Biobank and 23andMe.

The findings suggest that same-sex sexual behaviour is influenced by a complex mix of genetic and environmental influences like most human traits.

“Our findings provide insights into the biological underpinnings of same-sex sexual behavior,” say the authors, “but [they] also underscore the importance of resisting simplistic conclusions because the behavioral phenotypes are complex, because our genetic insights are rudimentary, and because there is a long history of misusing genetic results for social purposes.”

Since so many people believe that homosexuals are “born that way”, as Lady Gaga famously put it, the results of the research were widely reported.

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This article was posted: Monday, September 2, 2019 at 4:17 am

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