The association of homosexuality with a genetic alteration cannot be scientifically confirmed
Is homosexuality associated with a genetic alteration – an homosexuality gene? This is an issue that is often debated, and is of unquestionable ethical interest. Now, the question has been raised again, following the publication of an article by Bailey and Sanders in Psychological Medicine (http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S00332917140024 51) on this topic, in which 409 pairs of homosexual brothers were evaluated. The authors suggest that there may be a defect on the X chromosome that could be associated with homosexuality. This was already proposed 20 years ago by Dean Hamer, who studied 38 pairs of homosexual brothers.
However, other researchers are calling into question Bailey and Sander’s results, stating that the scientific evidence supporting their findings is very weak. This is particularly claimed by Neil Risch, of the University of San Francisco, California, who thinks that Bailey and Sander’s results are not statistically significant. Moreover, in 1999, Risch collaborated in a study that failed to show any association between homosexuality and this chromosome abnormality. In any event, Bailey and Sanders hope to have further data to support or refute their results shortly, as they have extended their study to a sample of more than one thousand pairs of homosexual brothers, although as Bailey himself says, “until someone finds a gene, we won´t know”. This debate therefore remains open, although certainly until the existence of this gene is proven, the association of homosexuality with a genetic alteration cannot be confirmed.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.