There is no single ‘gay gene’. But, homosexuality is not a choice!


The recent past and the present have lot of rising classified genders due to genetic and non-genetic factors. A study in genetic world to the “genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior” has touched a raw nerve among scientists and gender activists, not for its findings but for the fear it could be misconstrued.

It is possible to misconstrue the upbringing environment to the natural sexual orientation. Contrary to the popular belief, the sources fend otherwise claiming that there not one gene that orients towards the same sex.

What’s the study is about:

A study of nearly half a million people, funded by the National Institutes of Health and other agencies, found that there is no single gay gene that influence homosexuality but genetics does play perhaps a third of the influence. Researchers say there isn’t one determining gene, but many genes with tiny effect.

The study concludes that both genetics and non-genetic factors play important roles in same-sex behavior.

The study is the largest such on the subject. The researchers studied genetic data of 408,000 men and women from a large British database, the U.K. Biobank, who answered extensive health and behavior questions between 2006 and 2010, when they were between the ages of 40 and 69, and also used data from nearly 70,000 customers of the genetic testing service 23andMe, who were 51 years old on average, mostly American. All were of white European descent.

Trans people were not included.

And the debate has come long way…

For long, the accepted idea was that there is a single ‘gay gene’ that influences homosexuality. The study says that is not the case. This isn’t shocking, according to an essay the Broad Institute published to give context to the research. It is similar to the genetic influence over someone’s height, it points out. There is no single gene that determines height but a combination of genes, nor is genetics the only deciding parameter — diet, socio-environmental factors all come into play.

The scientific community, including those at Broad Institute, and gender activists fear the details could be lost among headlines. If the headline reads that a gene does not cause homosexuality, anti-gay people could cite this to say homosexuality is a choice, and thus something that can be changed — or even restricted.

The study has its limits. For one, the dataset were all white European descendants. Then, there is also differences in analysis on dataset of US and UK participants. There were differences among men and women too. And perhaps most notably, the study was about sexual behavior and not sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Truth is…

To conclude that there is no single “gay gene” is definitive. But that is similar to not having a single height gene. That factors beyond genetics come into play on height, doesn’t mean one can choose his height. The multiple effects of many genes show same-sex sexual behavior is a normal part of human variation, like many other human traits.

More on the study here. Note: There is indeed a subset of LGBTQIA+ who choose their sexuality, like this author who choose to be bisexual.

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