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SCIENCE: It Turns Out Homosexuality is Complicated

No individual gene alone makes a person gay, lesbian or bisexual; instead, thousands of genes likely influence sexual orientation, a massive new study of the genomes of nearly half a million people suggests.

Across human societies and in both sexes, between 2% and 10% of people report engaging in sex with a member of the same sex, either exclusively or in addition to sex with a member of the opposite sex, the researchers said. The biological factors that contribute to sexual orientation are largely unknown, but many scientists suspect that genetics plays a role, given that same-sex sexual behavior appears to run in families and is seen more often in identical twins than in fraternal twins.

But a precise genetic basis for sexual orientation has been elusive, largely because scientists previously had relatively small groups of volunteers to investigate.

“Because it is a controversial topic, funding has historically been limited and recruitment of participants was difficult,” study co-author Fah Sathirapongsasuti, a senior scientist and computational biologist at the genetic testing company 23andMe, told Live Science. Same-sex orientation remains criminalized in more than 70 countries, some with the death penalty, often stifling those willing to disclose such personal information.

The new study, however, included a much larger number of participants, making the results more statistically reliable than those of the previous, smaller studies. In the largest genetic study of sexual orientation to date, scientists studied a group of about 470,000 volunteers in the United Kingdom and the United States who reported on whether they had ever engaged in same-sex sexual behavior. They relied on genetic data from the UK Biobank (a long-term health and genetics study running in the United Kingdom) and 23andMe, as well as responses to surveys asking questions about sexual identity, attraction, fantasies and behavior.

Full Story From Live Science 

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