Genetics of homosexuality: “Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t publish”?

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Critics of homosexuals portray it as a “deviant” lifestyle choice and a violation of God’s will. Some religious conservatives argue on behalf of “gay conversions”—a practice that the California legislature is considering banning. The genetic issue first came to prominence in 1991, when Simon LeVay, worker at the Salk Institute in San Deigo, found subtle differences in the post-mortem brains of heterosexual and homosexual young men. Then in1993, when Dean Hamer and colleagues at the NIH published a paper in Science reporting a genetic association between sexual preference and a specific locus—dubbed the “gay gene”. As an editorial by Howy Jacobs in the European Molecular Biology Organization reports, the controversy it stirred has thrown a toxic cloud over genetic research in this area, which it hopes will clear.

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