The Genetics of Homosexuality


In recent years there has been a furious debate about whether homosexuality has a genetic basis. Ultimately the issue will have a scientific resolution although at present the data do not definitively support one side or the other. Unfortunately there are substantial ideological overtones to the debate as well. If the evidence shows that homosexuality is at least partially determined genetically (and remember that most complex humans behaviors are joint products of genetics and environment), this can be taken to suggest that homosexuality is not freely chosen. Those who believe this to be the case usually use the term sexual orientation. If, on the other hand, the evidence for genetic effects is unconvincing, it may imply that homosexuality is more a preference or choice. Religious conservatives and others find this position more congenial.

I have provided some book suggestions and Internet links for those of you who want to find out more. However, in examining these materials it is important to keep a few points in mind.


One site that is dependable and tries to be unbiased on a range of issues dealing with religion and beliefs related to religion is In particular they have a number of good essays on the topic at hand. Below I have provided only the most central links; there are many others worth perusing, and generally transportation within the site is easy. You can also find links to various conservative Christian perspectives in addition to the ones I have listed below.

General introduction to homosexuality

Causes of homosexuality

Changeable or not/ Natural or not

Can homosexuality be changed through therapy? Mostly links

Studies on genetic determinants

Religious influences on attitudes about homosexuality

Biblical references to homosexuality This is a particularly good site not only for citations to the few references in the Bible to homosexuality, but also to contextual and translation issues which are sizeable in this domain.

A statement by the American Psychological Association

Perspectives on tolerance from a group of conservative Christians

Children's atypical gender behavior

Concerned Women for America A conservative perspective.


There are a great many books on the causes of homosexuality. Many of the older books present one or another version of psychoanalytic theories, an approach that is rejected by nearly everyone these days. Other emphasize some of the possible environmental causes. The majority of more recent books are sympathetic to the idea of a biological basis for homosexuality. In that vein you might want to read the recent (2003) and somewhat controversial, The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey. It is perhaps the best short treatment of the topic, and he argues that signs of male homosexuality appear quite early in the developmental process. He also discusses transgendered people (primarily men who wish to become female). However, although it treats the scientific evidence respectfully, some have argued that he over generalizes from the available data and is vague when he needs to be precise. It has also been criticized for placing too much emphasis on stereotyped gender traits in building the argument. Whether or not you agree, it is a most interesting read.

The conservative religious perspective is certainly less nuanced and probably does not require a book length treatment. However, those who wish to explore all sides in greater depth than the Internet links provide can find books representing alternative views by checking some of the ReligiousTolerance site links.