No One Gay Gene: Many Factors Play a Role in Defining Sexuality

Sexuality is complex and environement, social factors and genetics all play a role in defining it.

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Sexuality is complex and both genes and environment play a role.

A new mega study focused on genetics and same sex relationships says sexuality is not simple. It’s complex and a multitude of environment, social factors and genes play a role in defining it.

In assigning percentages, the study says genetics perhaps plays only 1/3rd of a role. And it’s not a single gene, but many that may lead one to have ‘same sex’ sex.

Simply put, genetics don’t alone define if someone will have a same sex relationship.

The international team including researchers form Harvard and MIT conducted this Genome-Wide Association Study. They studied samples of 477,522 individuals, revealing five loci significantly associated with same-sex sexual behavior. But these five locations capture only a tiny fraction of the genome's overall contribution. There are thousands of other genetic variants that contribute in minor ways - and together with the five loci, play 8 to 25 percent of a role in leading to same-sex sexual behavior.

The New York Times quoted a researcher as saying, “It’s written into our genes and it’s part of our environment. This is part of our species and it’s part of who we are.”

The study found differences in same sex relationships within men and women.

The Study Sparks Concern

Concerns have been raised among the LGBTQI community that the study may lead to more biases and give ammunition to those who have been pushing the nurture-nature debate. It may lead to further discrimination against the community.

The NYT report quotes activists who say this study could lead to genetic editing and using science against gay people.

Once the study was published, Broad Institute, that participated in the research, posted essays from scientists from the LGBTQI community who have protested against publishing of the findings.

It’s significant that the study does not specify the role nature or nurture play - saying both play a significant role.

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