Several Genes Affect Sexual Orientation

An image of DNA represented in rainbow colors

While prior studies showed that there is a genetic component to same-sex attraction, they were unable to identify the specific genes involved. Researchers teamed up from the US, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Australia to delve further into this question. The team performed a genome-wide association study on 493,001 participants from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden with the help of UK Biobank and 23andMe.

The researchers observe that sexual attraction and behavior are associated with five genetic markers, nothing that, “These aggregate genetic influences partly overlapped with those on a variety of other traits, including externalizing behaviors such as smoking, cannabis use, risk-taking, and the personality trait ‘openness to experience.'” The team, who reported their findings in the 30 August 2019 issue of Science, remark that human sexuality is too complex to be described by “bipolar continuum measures such as the Kinsey scale.” In short, sexuality isn’t binary.

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