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In a peer-reviewed study published in Science, researchers found evidence that many genetic variants contribute to same-sex sexual behavior, but each has a small influence. When taken together, the variants explain only a minority of a person’s likelihood of ever engaging in sexual behavior with a person of the same sex.

The study concludes that both genetics and non-genetic factors play important roles.

Five locations in the human genome were associated with this trait at a statistically significant level, but these five loci capture only a tiny fraction of the genome’s overall contribution (far less than one percent). The analysis further revealed that thousands of other variants also make tiny contributions that, together with the five loci, account for between 8 and 25 percent of the variation in self-reported same-sex sexual behavior. Much of the remainder is likely due to non-genetic factors.

These results do not make any conclusive statements about the degree to which “nature” and “nurture” influence sexual orientation or behavior, but indicate that both are likely to play a role.

These genetic results — likely thousands of variants, each with a very small effect — are similar to those for many other complex traits, like height, and indicate that same-sex sexual behavior is a normal part of human variation.

According to the study, there is no “gay gene” that determines whether a person will have same-sex partners in their lifetime. The findings indicate that it is impossible to meaningfully predict an individual’s same-sex sexual behavior from genetics.

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