PerspectiveGenomics

How do genes affect same-sex behavior?

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Science  30 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6456, pp. 869-870
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay2726

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Summary

Studies have indicated that same-sex orientation and behavior has a genetic basis and runs in families, yet specific genetic variants have not been isolated (1). Evidence that sexual orientation has a biological component could shape acceptance and legal protection: 4 to 10% of individuals report ever engaging in same-sex behavior in the United States, so this could affect a sizeable proportion of the population (2). On page 882 of this issue, Ganna et al. (3) report the largest study to date, comprising almost half a million individuals in the United Kingdom and United States, identifying genetic variants associated with same-sex sexual behavior. They provide evidence that genetic variation accounts for a small fraction of same-sex sexual behavior and uncover a relationship to the regulation of the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen as well as sex-specific differences. They also reveal complexity of human sexuality.

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