The discussion of sexual orientation is complex and emotional. It is complex because it encompasses a wide range of scientific fields such as behavioural genetics, neuro-anatomy, psychiatry, psychology, sociology and many others. And it is emotional because sexuality is such an integral part of our identity as individuals. Homosexuality has undoubtedly been one of the most debated socio-political topics in the west over the past few decades.

There are two main kinds of studies that are carried out regarding sexual orientation. They are usually referred to as the nature vs. nurture arguments. This concept is not restricted to the question of sexual orientation only but is widely used in science. It basically asks – “to what extent is something the way that it is because of its biologically inherited nature, such as genetics?” And, “to what extent is something the way that it is because of the way that it is nurtured, otherwise known as environmental factors?”  This includes the influence of hormones on a baby during pregnancy, how the child is nurtured by the parents and the subsequent relationship with the parents and peers as the child grows up, as well as the experiences that the child has.

It is necessary to mention that even though the idea of a so called ‘gay gene’ has been popularized by the media, there is not a shred of scientific evidence showing that homosexuality is genetically determined and therefore immutable (unchangeable). That is not to say that studies to prove a genetic cause have not been undertaken. Many studies have been undertaken by research professionals from respected academic institutions. Here are three famous ones:

1. Geneticist, Dean Hamer, author of the ‘gay gene’ study tried to link homosexuality to a string of DNA on the X chromosome called Xq28.

2. Simon LeVay, a neuro scientist, studied the differences in the front hypothalamus (INAH3) part of the brain of homosexual and heterosexual males.

3. Bailey and Pillard did studies on identical twins that had 100% the same DNA, non identical twins, siblings and adopted siblings of the same sex.

None of these studies or any other subsequent studies have shown that homosexuality is genetically determined and therefore immutable (unchangeable) and neither do they make that claim. The majority of respected scientists now believe that homosexuality is attributable to a variety of complex factors.

Dean Hamer said “There is not a single master gene that makes people gay…I don’t think we will ever predict who will be gay” [1]

Simon LeVay, the author of the hypothalamus study, noted, “It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. I did not prove that homosexuality was genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men were born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work” [2]

Doctors For Life International affirms that people who have a same sex attraction have the right to seek professional help and that therapists have the right to offer it.

In reviewing the research, psychiatrist Jeffrey Satinover reported a 52% success rate in the treatment of unwanted homosexual attraction. [3]

Masters and Johnson, the famed sex researchers, reported 65% success rate after a five-year follow-up. [4]

[1] Mitchell, N, (1995). Genetics, sexuality linked, study says. Standard Examiner, April 30.

[2] Nimmons, D. (1994). Sexual brain. Discover, 5, 3.

[3] Satinover, J. (1996). Homosexuality and the politics of truth. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books.

[4] Schwartz, M. F. & Masters, W. H. (1984). The Masters and Johnson treatment program for dissatisfied homosexual men. American Journal of Psychiatry, 141, pp. 173-181.

Life Alerts

Africa – EU Pressure on Africa to promote homosexuality

African governments reacted negatively when the European Parliament passed a resolution last month threatening sanctions on countries that punish homosexual acts. The resolution was a response to Uganda and Nigeria toughening sodomy laws and outlawing the promotion of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. The European Parliament asked that the governments of Uganda and Nigeria no longer be given development aid from the European Union. The Africans promptly countered.Each society has a human right to defend its culture and traditions and “determine its own moral values and norms” through its democratic institutions, African nations said in a declaration issued a few days later.


USA – Trans Women Are 49 Times More Likely to Have HIV

Last month, The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) released a report, titled, “Trans Populations and HIV: Time to End the Neglect,”detailing the high rate of HIV infection among transgender men and women along with the failings of the HIV-focused medical community. The report’s estimate suggests that trans women are among the most at risk demographic, and are an estimated 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than members of the general population. Rates of infection are even higher among trans women of color. The reason for this alarmingly high rate of infection appears to hinge on a number of factors, including economic status, a propensity to engage in survival sex work, likelihood of intravenous drug use, and other high-risk behaviors.


UK – Promoting homosexuality on the rise in UK schools

“An increasing number of schools are introducing Section 28-style bans on promoting homosexuality, in the classroom,” delegates told the National Union of Teachers’ annual conference in Brighton this week,” media sources report. However, a motion before the conference has said, “That at least 46 schools, including a number of academies, had words similar to the previous legislation in their school policies.”Deborah Glynn, from St Helens, Lancashire, highlighted research by the British Humanist Association, to the conference, “Which,” she said, “showed that there are many schools bringing this wording back into their policies.”


Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of Doctors for Life International.

Doctors For Life International is an association of more than 1600 specialists and medical doctors. DFL endeavours to promote public health by upholding sound science in the medical profession, as well as the constitutional right to freedom of conscience for all healthcare professionals. For more information, please visit www.dfl.org.za