A couple of weeks ago, one of our readers emailed me with a ‘curly topic‘ that they thought I might be interested in tackling. Curly topic? Sounded like a challenge – of course I was interested! (As a matter of fact, if there’s any topic out there – curly, straight or otherwise – related to religion, sex, or politics, that you’d like to see me try and take on, please drop me a line.)
Anyway, this curler comes in the form of a hypothetical:
“If it turns out to be true that homosexuality is influenced by genetics, will that gene eventually breed itself out? Seeing as how people with it are more likely than the average to go through their lives without becoming parents…”
The easy answer is a categorical no, it won’t. Gay and lesbian people might be less likely to have biological children, true, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t/don’t. A report by the Urban Institute, a non-partisan social and economic research group in the United States found that:
– More than one in three lesbians have given birth and one in six gay men have fathered or adopted a child.
– More than half of gay men and 41 percent of lesbians want to have a child.
So if homosexuality is passed down genetically figures such as these would suggest an ensured genetic continuance.
If that’s not enough for you, there are also suggestions that the genes involved with male homosexuality should more accurately be called genes for “sexual attraction for men”, which could predispose men towards homosexuality, but could encourage “hyper-heterosexuality” in women which could lead them to have more sex with men and thus potentially have more offspring.
The same research (which looked at close to 5000 people, including gay people and their relatives) revealed that women with these genetic characteristics may be more fertile: “mothers of gay men produced an average of 2.7 babies compared with 2.3 born to mothers of straight men. And maternal aunts of gay men had 2.0 babies compared with 1.5 born to the maternal aunts of straight men.”
You also have to consider sociological and psychological factors. If society continues to put negative pressure and discrimination on homosexual people, then some men and women with this tendency will sadly continue to live in embarrassment, shame, fear or denial. This could likely lead them to hide behind a marriage in which more than like they would have children.
An interesting yet related tangent is that another study found that the more some people associated homosexuality with genetic factors, the more likely they were to support equal rights for same-sex partners particularly in terms of domestic marriages. It appears these people (even the religious) are more comfortable with a deterministic world rather than a free will based one.
As a final note, as far as I can determine, all research in this area to date is non-conclusive. Also, this post has just been a hypothetical examination and whether homosexuality has genetic elements or not, the more pressing issue is pushing for equality for homosexual people. Here’s a place you can get some ideas how.