- (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)
A team of researchers have proposed a new biological explanation for the development of sexual orientation, namely homosexuality.
Scientists from University of California Santa Barbara and the University of Tennessee in the United States and Uppsala University in Sweden released their findings on Tuesday, arguing that while not necessarily genetic, homosexuality does have a biological origin.
Headed by Dr. William Rice of UC Santa Barbara, the researchers focused on the influence of epigenetics, or changes in gene expression that do not alter a DNA sequence.
The paper was published online by the Quarterly Review of Biology and the research was organized by the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS).
"Pedigree and twin studies indicate that homosexuality has substantial heritability in both sexes, yet concordance between identical twins is low and molecular studies have failed to find associated DNA markers. This paradoxical pattern calls for an explanation," reads the abstract by Rice et al in part.
"We use published data on fetal androgen signaling and gene regulation via nongenetic changes in DNA packaging (epigenetics) to develop a new model for homosexuality."
The news of the theory comes as political issues surrounding homosexuality are gaining headlines. In California, a law was passed banning reparative therapy for homosexual minors with a legal challenge gaining momentum in response. Last week, the Supreme Court opted to hear cases regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8.
David Pruden, vice president of Operations for the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, told The Christian Post that he felt the paper would likely be misused by many.
"It is not a study. It is a theoretical model that the authors acknowledge is completely untested and has no data from actual research studies," said Pruden.
"Since the 'theory' seems to be getting media attention as if it were an actual 'conclusion' rather than a hypothetical model those with a political agenda are bound to use this misperception to further their agenda."
Pruden also told CP that the paper's theory, even if correct, would not jeopardize organizations like NARTH, which focus on providing reparative therapy for their clients.
"Common sense would then suggest that even if the unproven theory was completely correct individuals would still seek assistance in living lives congruent with their own personally chosen goals and values."
Correction: Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012:
An earlier version of this article quoted Pruden as saying that the theoretical model "attributes only 10-14 percent of the factors to genetics or epigenetics." According to an email from Dr. Rice to Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton, that is an inaccurate statement. The researchers think that "carry-over epi-marks have the potential to account for most homosexuality."