NGLTF Statement on NIH Genetic Study on Homosexuality

NATIONAL GAY & LESBIAN TASK FORCE 1734 14th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009 (202) 332-6483
For Immediate Release: July 15, 1993


Washington, DC, July 14, 1993....A study to be released later this week by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that there is a correlation between a specific chromosomal region in human males and homosexuality. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) welcomes study into the complexities of human sexuality. Regardless of the scientific origins of homosexuality, however, NGLTF calls for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The NIH study, which will be published in the July issue of _Science_, is the most recent in a body of research indicating a possible genetic basis for homosexuality. While a widely-publicized brain study by researcher Simon LeVay and a subsequent study of gay male twins pointed to the potential of a biological basis, the NIH study identifies a specific area of the X chromosome that is linked to male homosexuality. The study does not identify an individual gene responsible for directing sexual orientation, nor does it show that the specific chromosome accounts for all occurrences of homosexuality. The study focused solely on gay men, although a similar study of lesbians is in progress.

"The NIH study is an important addition to the growing body of evidence indicating a genetic basis for homosexuality in some people," said Peri Jude Radecic, NGLTF Deputy Director of Public Policy. "And it shows that homosexuality is a naturally occurring and common variation among humans -- a fact that gay and lesbian people have known all along."

"Regardless of the origins of homosexuality, however, discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong and must end," Radecic said. "This is especially true to avoid the potential unethical use of genetic studies. Because studies of human sexuality are not conducted in political and social vacuums, precautions must be taken to ensure that the studies are not used against any individuals or groups."

In the past, Right Wing organizations have claimed that homosexuality is not genetically based and some groups therefore encouraged "reparative therapy" to "cure" gay people of their "abnormal behavior." However, upon release of the LeVay brain study two years ago, Rev. Lou Sheldon, an anti-gay activist with the Traditional Values Coalition, insinuated that if homosexuality were proven to be biologically based, he believed medicine and science should seek to genetically alter homosexuals.

"We know that the Right Wing will use any research results against gay and lesbian civil rights, because theirs is a movement based not on seeking the truth but on perpetuating bigotry," Radecic said. "Our movement, on the other hand, wants to end discrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual people, regardless of how or why sexual orientations vary."

For further information about the scientific and ethical questions surrounding biological research, contact Rochelle Diamond of the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals, (818) 791-7689.