No conclusive ‘gay gene’ that can influence sexual preferences
So is there a “gay gene” or not? A recent study has noted that there’s no such thing as a single “gay gene”– but genetics with environmental factors can influence sexual preferences.
The study found that there were thousands of genetic variants that were linked to same-sex sexual behavior.
However, most of them only had a minor impact, according to results released by a group that included the Broad Institute and 23andMe.
Researchers determined that non-genetic factors– including upbringing, personality, and nurture– had more influence on a person’s choice of sexual partner.
Meanwhile, the genes predicted less than one percent of people’s behavior.
Study: Still no definite ‘gay gene’
Researchers noted that genetics may account for as much as one-third of the various factors that determine whether a person’s attraction to same-sex partners.
Andrea Ganna, a biologist at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Finland who co-led the research, said: “We scanned the entire human genome and found a handful– five to be precise– of locations that are clearly associated with whether a person reports in engaging in same-sex sexual behavior.”
The study– the largest of its kind– looked at data and DNA information from more than 470,000 people taken from the UK Biobank and the US-based genetics testing company 23andMe.
Aside from survey responses, the study used analyses known as genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on data from these people who had given DNA samples and lifestyle information.
Many of those who volunteered their information were from the US and the UK, and included subjects of both sexes.
Gana said that previous studies were small and underpowered. As such, they decided to collect data from this pool of people, which is “100 times bigger than previous studies.”
No ‘gay gene’ equals ‘natural’ LGBTQ
LGBTQ rights campaigners welcomed the findings of the study as it “provides even more evidence that being gay or lesbian is a natural part of human life.”
“This new research also re-confirms the long-established understanding that there is no conclusive degree to which nature or nurture influence how a gay or lesbian person behaves,” said Zeke Stokes of the US-based LGBT+
The recent findings are part of the long process started by National Institutes of Health geneticist Dean Hamer, who sought to find the genetic basis of homosexuality.
Hamer, who was also gay, had found a potential link on the x-chromosome, which was dubbed as the original “gay gene.” However, Hamer thought this was a misleading oversimplification.
This gene was not one of those cited in the new study.