Cause of homosexuality found: Does it matter?

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Homosexuality isn't in the genes - mystery solved
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Researchers say they may have pinpointed the cause of homosexuality that isn’t exactly in the genes, but nevertheless, inherited.

Scientists cite epigenetic changes in genes that persist rather than being erased as normal for the most likely reason for being gay.

According to the finding that is published in The Quarterly Review of Biology, homosexuality is known to run in families, but researchers haven’t found a so-called gay gene.

To come up with a possible explanation, researchers developed a mathematical model that combines evolutionary theory with recent information about how genes are expressed (epigenetics) related to androgen-dependent sexual development in the womb.

The scientists concluded the most ‘plausible’ explanation about the cause of homosexuality is that ‘epi-marks’ that attach to genes can change the way genes are expressed.

The researchers explain epi-marks on genes develop in the womb and are responsible for sex specific traits. Some affect the genitals; others affect sexual preference or sexual identity.

Normally epi-marks go away each generation – but if they don’t, they can be passed on in families, becoming reversed in the womb and passed from father to daughter and mother to son.

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The conclusion from the study is that “sexually antagonistic” epi-marks can be passed through generations resulting in homosexuality that is “easily spread in the population”.

"Transmission of sexually antagonistic epi-marks between generations is the most plausible evolutionary mechanism of the phenomenon of human homosexuality," said the study's co-author Sergey Gavrilets, NIMBioS' associate director for scientific activities and a professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in a press release.

The epigenetic cause of homosexuality found in the study is based on mathematical modeling and recent evidence that epi-marks, which are temporary and usually produced anew each generation, can sometimes escape erasure and be inherited. To prove the theory, researchers would need to test parents and their offspring.

The finding, if verified, might raise questions. Are there practical applications related to the study? Can science intervene somehow to ensure ‘natural selection’ processes don’t go awry? – Specifically, what the Catholic catechism refers to as losing the ‘gift of life’.

It’s unlikely that epi-markers for homosexuality would persist to the point that humans would no longer have a desire to procreate. The epigenetic markers that are suggested as a cause for homosexuality are undoubtedly strong.

The Catholic Church views homosexuality as a ‘trial’, stating “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”, though they do not approve of sex between same gender partners.

The study is the first to find a potential cause for homosexuality – whether or not it has any practical applications remains to be seen. The finding may matter when it comes to acceptance and understanding that being gay doesn’t require a ‘cure’.

Citation:
Rice WR, Friberg U, Gavrilets S.
" Homosexuality as a consequence of epigenetically canalized sexual development"
The Quarterly Review of Biology
December 11, 2012.

Image credit: Morguefile

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Comments

This author is an idiot- No cause for becoming gay exists. The scientists in this article made a hypothesis not a discovery. It's a study, not a fact. Gays could change their minds whenever they want to- But they'd rather live a dirty life, that's all.
You know nothing about what you say. The scientists in any respected published journal have years and years of higher education that give them the tools to determine their hyphotheses, and do work to prove them or disprove them. You, on the other hand, are a loud mouth and know only enough to make a fool of yourself.
Scientist work to 'prove' or 'disprove' according to who pays for the study. They won't bite the hand that feeds them! The problem, of course is, that those who want to prove a point pay for the study, while others with a different viewpoint might not have the financial means to prove their point. You can tell by the incompleteness of a study. They 'discover' an epigene that malfunctions. Great! But why does it malfunction? No mention of the cause of the malfunction. Just imagine taking your car to the repair man who then tells you what you already know. The motor won't start! But you want to know WHY it won't start!
That is a terrible analogy and isn't applicable. Sometimes science tells us how to predict outcomes in a reliable way but does not say why. Gravity is an example of this. The gravitational force on two objects is due to their masses. No one can explain why, yet it is still useful information.
Bad example. Gravity is taught in all schools as fact. Look up push gravity, a theory proposing Newton's apple was pushed to the earth by gravity rather than pulled. This theory is now is making a comeback.
Doesn't matter. The point is that science doesn't always explain why they happen, yet it may yield other useful information. In this case the science tends to show that people are born gay. push gravity has nothing to do with it.
It is a good point that there are vested interests, even in science. Yet much science is conducted for purely fact finding purposes, and the funds come from universities or even government grants - and there is more interest in discovering facts that in pushing a specific agenda. In this instance the theory dovetails quite well with previous studies that seem to support hormonal womb environment at various stages of fetal development can lead to a strong probability of male fetuses developing into homosexual individuals. This is just theory so far, that seems to mathmatically support the facts - emperical evidence. It will be interesting to see future studies that will solidify or dispute this theory.
Gays can't change, it isn't a choice!!!!!! It is the way they ARE!!!!! Religion has nothing to do with their preference!!!!!!
If you are a straight man like me, could you see yourself changing your mind to become gay and start sleeping with men? I couldn't. I'd rather die. So no, being gay is not a choice, it is how you are born. Who are you that makes you so much smarter than a scientist? I mean, these scientists spent about 10 years in college getting their doctorate, they only work with this type of work, they are specialized in this field, they have many, many years of experience. Do you know what "theory" means? It means that you are coming up with an answer with all the information and data and research you have at that time. So, this means that he has a lot of evidence that backs his theory. So his theory did not come out of the sky. You are so ignorant its ridiculous. Just who the heck are you to act like you know more than a scientist who is more qualified than the author amd you.
The question that remains unanswered is why do these epigenetic changes in genes persist, rather than being erased as normal. What is the cause of them persisting?
I know a girl who was repeatedly raped when she was 4 years old and the crime went Unreported. The result? She became gay in order to protect herself from her adolescent experience. "Learn from Experience."