A new study shows the correlation between specific genes and same-sex sexual behavior. Regardless of the amount of genetic contribution, same-sex sexual behavior shouldn’t be treated as a choice.
The study, currently the most comprehensive on the subject, identified five genes that correlate with same-sex sexual activity. These genes are also associated with sex hormone regulation and the sense of smell.
Despite the limitations and risks of this study, we at The Alestle believe in the importance of research that shows how natural same-sex behavior is. It should not be something that is feared or needs to be “cured,” because one thing is for sure, we cannot control who we are attracted to.
While it is crucial to understand the importance of research, compassion and acceptance should always come first. Sexuality is not a lifestyle choice and shouldn’t be treated as if it is. We should all seek to understand one another to the best of our ability.
The authors of the research also explained the genetic factors that differentiate those who had engaged in same-sex sexual behavior from those who had not could not account for the wide range in the number of same-sex partners individuals will have.
Sexuality has no influence on sexual promiscuity. Same-sex sexual behaviors shouldn’t be regarded as sexually corrupt.
The study also found several personality traits, risky behaviors and mental health disorders to be correlated with same-sex sexual behavior. These include loneliness, openness to experience, cigarette smoking and cannabis use.
However, it’s important to note the researchers believe the cause of these correlations is unclear and could be attributed to environmental factors, such as the prejudice against individuals engaging in same-sex sexual acts.
This research illustrates that the genetics of sexuality are complex and that there is no single genetic determinant.
Rather, sexuality is determined by multiple genes and also has roots in environmental factors — previous research indicated hormone exposure during development could also contribute to sexual orientation.
The Genome Association Study examined the genetic make-up and self-reported sexual histories of nearly a half million individuals from the U.S., the U.K. and Sweden. Since all of the participants were of white European descent, the findings are limited and cannot be used to generalize the entire LGBTQ population. Additionally, the study excluded individuals who are transgender.
Most of the study’s participants were between the ages of 40 and 70. Younger participants were much more likely to report engaging in same-sex sexual behavior at least once.
In addition to the study’s limitations, this research has sparked a lot of debate and concern. According to an article from The New York Times, one concern is that evidence linking same-sex behavior to genetics could cause anti-gay activists to advocate for gene editing or embryo selection, which would have ethical implications and would be dangerous by limiting natural diversity. Genes linked to same-sex behavior should not be artificially selected against.
Another concern raised by the article is that evidence showing genetics only play a partial role in same-sex behavior could encourage those who insist being gay is a choice and lead them to advocate for risky and prejudicial methods such as conversion therapy.
However, previous researchers have shown it is nearly impossible to cause someone to change their sexual orientation, a critical argument against social influence playing a large role in the emergence of same-sex sexual behavior. Homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice and is rather the culmination of genetic and developmental influences.