Can Homosexuality be Biologically Based?

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In recent years, same-sex sexual orientation has become more acceptable by society and has become one of the most discussed topic on human behavior. It has become so widely acceptable, that other forms of sexuality have become apparent. Heterosexual behavior has not been questioned, but the behavior of being attracted to the same sex has allowed psychologist to increase research behind the cause. When considering the behavior, many argue that it is mainly influenced by either biological, evolutionary, or cultural factors. Before the nineteenth century, the origin of homosexuality was not widely discussed, but was changed by a sexologist names Richard Kraft-Ebbing, who suggested that homosexuality was genetic (Mbugua, 2015).

One of the main reasons for researching biological bases for homosexuality is to help the community with civil rights (Rosenberg, 149). Other views suggest that biological proof will not keep their rights safe or acceptable. In the past, these “desires” were seen as mental illnesses, that failed after seeking therapy due to the tendencies being consistent. Treatments also included shock-therapy. Another issue that homosexuality faces lies within religious practice. Majority of religions view homosexuality as a sin that can be forgiven through rejection of the thoughts and behaviors and accepted through a higher power.

“Throughout the country, many religious organizations are now offering live-in programs in which homosexuals spend at least one year trying to change through prayer and bible study” (Rosenberg, 149). Another postulation by Theo Lang (1940) suggested that homosexuals males were actually females due to chromosomes. One example is XXY males, who have an extra X chromosome which lead to having male sexual parts but developing breast. Another study blames parenting for the behaviors their children present. There are endless theories about homosexuality that argues from multiple point of views for and against the behavior.

Evidence for Homosexuality Being Biologically Based

One explanation for homosexuality was studied by Rosenberg (1994) which can influenced by hormones. This finding started neuroscience observations. An anatomical observation was researched by Simon LeVay (1991) where the anterior hypothalamus in homosexual males were compared to that of heterosexual woman. The brains of forty-one deceased men were examined. The results showed that the sizes were similar, which caused homosexual males to be attracted to the same sex. After this discovery, LeVay came to the conclusion that homosexual is innate. Influences of hormones during the pre-natal period is another probable cause of homosexuality.

Sex hormones such as androgens are mostly observed, which are found predominantly in males (p. 148). Schuklenk (1997) discussed a study done about hormones exposure in early development in rodents. This exposure caused male rodents to mate with other males. The research then shifted from a neuroscientific point of view to a genetic view. There has also been evidence that connects pre-natal stress to homosexuality specifically among males (Ellis & Ames, p. 247). Studies were done post World War II in Germany and in mothers who reported to be stressed. Results showed that over 66% of mothers had homosexual sons, 33% had bisexual sons, and 10% had heterosexual sons.

Geneticist investigated similarities between siblings to help support claims of homosexuality, saying that identical twins had a higher chance of becoming homosexual than fraternal twins (Rosenberg, p.148). Genetics were studied primarily through twin studies. Research by Dr. Hamer et al. (1993) had shown that homosexual men tend to have homosexual male relatives on their mother side, but not the father side. Forty families’ maternal genes were observed and a region on the X chromosome showed evidence of inheritable homosexuality. Out of the forty, thirty-three brothers scored in the ninety-ninth percentile of having the specified region. This showed strong statistical connection to homosexuality being biological. Joslyn and Haider-Markel (2016) stated “…because genes are perceived as fixed, immutable, the underlying essence of individuals, they offer a practical basis for individuals…” (p. 380).

Another twin study was done by Frantz Kallman, a psychiatrist, in 1952 (Mabuga 2015). The study consisted of identical twins, who share the exact same genes, and fraternal twins, who only share half of the same genes. This is important because if the “gay gene” exist, then there should be higher similarities in sexual orientation between identical twins than fraternal. His research consisted of forty identical twins, forty-five fraternal twins, and a comparison group of 228 people that were institutionalized in either a prison or psychiatric hospital. Results revealed a “concordance for homosexuality” to be 100% for identical twins, 60% for fraternal twins, and 11.5% for the comparison group. This study was done in hopes to diminish the ostracization of the group in society.

In 1991, sibling studies were done by Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard for two years that involved fifty-six identical twins, fifty-four fraternal twins, and fifty-seven adopted brothers. In order to carry out this study, researchers used methods such as self-reports, questionnaires, interviews, and ratings. The results revealed a concordance of 52% for identical twins, 22% for fraternal twins, and 11% for adopted brothers. This then motivated the research done by Dr. Hamer. The identified section in chromosomes was in the “region Xq28 of the X chromosome” (p. 29). Mbuga concluded that although there has been claims of falsified reports on some of the studies, the claims have not been supported themselves.

Explanation against Homosexuality Being Biological Based

Arguments studied by Lemeire (2015) are studied through a philosophy and suggest that homosexuality is influenced by society, development, and culture. The researcher believes that different environments causes different sexualities (p. 483). Such sexualities are homosexuality, pansexuality, and more. The article argues that biological studies on homosexuality have low statistical importance meaning there is not enough support behind the claims. A cultural view example of homosexuality included a nonsufficient number of women in a certain area, which leads to these tendencies such as male prisons.

A study done by Ellis and Ames (1987) discussed how isolating certain animal groups by one sex will lead to homosexuality (p. 248). Humans themselves may have a hard time approaching other sexes which causes them to have homosexual tendencies. Therefore, social factors play a large roll in homosexual behavior. Majority of problems happen during childhood development. A study done in monkeys found that segregated females, before puberty, participated in homosexual behavior, once integrated, females remained to interact with other females and denying sexual relations with males.

Lemeire discussed the use of using the term “homosexuality” lightly when referring to humans and animals, scientists are requesting different terms when referring to animals. Many theories have surfaced, for example by Kershaw (2005), discussed a mutation theory that a mutation in humans that causes same-sex behavior. Personal experiences also are accountable. If a person has a horrible sexual experience towards the opposite sex, then the person may turn towards homosexuality (p. 580). Evolution is one of the predominant factors that argues against homosexuality.

The earliest example of homosexuality through a societal and cultural view was seen in Greek culture where adolescent boys were sexually engaged with older, married men (Lemeire p. 480). This information started the foundation of homosexuality evidence. One theory suggested that a “procreative component” (Kershaw p. 585) started, which is caused by a shift in flexibility. In Sambian culture, there is a shift engagement of homosexual behavior to heterosexual behavior, once an adolescent male matures (p. 586). This is thought to be evidence for homosexuality in the United States. Haider-Markel (2008) discussed whether homosexuality is “controllable” or “uncontrollable.” If the behavior can be controlled, that means that a person is responsible for their behavior and feelings.

Gomez et al. (2017) discussed a study in which the youngest brother among siblings is more likely to be homosexual. Another study within family is homosexuality is caused by separation anxiety in children. To test these theories, a Separation Anxiety Scale was used on a total of 454 people in which they would answer a questionnaire about family, memories at a young age, age, and income. The results revealed that homosexuals tend to have lower incomes and higher on the Separation Anxiety Scale. This means that homosexuality may be caused by a socioeconomic problems and separation from important figures in their life.

Motluk (2003) stated that these findings have not been observed among different racial groups. He also discusses how a significant amount of homosexual mean have older brothers. Another study done by Blanchard observed 302 homosexual and heterosexual males through a questionnaire, which revealed that homosexual had more older brothers. Motluk also discussed a study by James Cantor in which males with two or more older brothers are more likely to be homosexual than having no brothers. With that being said, the more brothers a younger male had, the more likely he will homosexual.


There are many studies discussing the origins of homosexuality and the causes behind it, which also lies in the Nature verses Nurture debate. The main source of research for biological factors about homosexuality are twin studies. There have been significant correlations between identical twin genetic makeup and lower for siblings with different genetic makeup. Rosenberg (1994) discussed researched done my Dr. Hamer, while Bailey and Pillard (1991) did another study.

Theories expand to neuroanatomy and neurophysiology by Simon LeVay (1991) by examining brains between homosexual males and heterosexual females and Schuklenk observing hormones in rodents. These findings in rodents may be difficult to compare to humans, but the use of animal has helped understand other aspects. Bailey and Pillard go further by doing research on a found chromosomal area that may explain how homosexuality can be genetic.

Other explanations for homosexuality rely on more moral ends with influences of culture, society, and the conclusion that homosexuality is a choice. Animal studies are often overlooked due to people not wanting to be compared. The discussion starts off by discussing the biological aspects as being false and having low evidence. Many factors into homosexual behavior such as being isolated into prisons and cultural views on the subject that can be seen as a rite of passage. Isolation has been discovered to cause homosexuality among certain animals that leads to a social theory on the topic.

These theories have been supported in studies in female monkeys who were isolated before puberty and chose to remain isolated after integration with male monkeys. Kershaw (2005) discussion continues the evidence by claiming that personal experience, such as sexual, can cause homosexuality. The last major evidence behind homosexuality not being biologically based has to do with separation anxiety among significant parents, having low incomes, and males having older male siblings.

Work Cited

  1. Andrew L. Whitehead. (2010). Sacred Rites and Civil Rights: Religion’s Effect on Attitudes Toward Same-Sex Unions and the Perceived Cause of Homosexuality. Social Science Quarterly, (1), 63. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.ucs.louisiana.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?d irect=true&AuthType=ip,cookie,uid,url&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.42956523&site=eds-live
  2. Ellis, L., & Ames, M. A. (1987). Neurohormonal functioning and sexual orientation: a theory of homosexuality-heterosexuality. Psychological Bulletin, 233. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.ucs.louisiana.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?d irect=true&AuthType=ip,cookie,uid,url&db=edsgao&AN=edsgcl.5278202&site=eds-live
  3. Gomez, F. R., Semenyna, S. W., Court, L., & Vasey, P. L. (2017). Recalled Separation Anxiety in Childhood in Istmo Zapotec Men, Women, and Muxes. Archives of Sexual Behavior, (1), 109. https://ezproxyprod.ucs.louisiana.edu:4128/10.1007/s10508-016-0917-x
  4. Joslyn, M. R., & Haider-Markel, D. P. (2016). Genetic Attributions, Immutability, and Stereotypical Judgments: An Analysis of Homosexuality. Social Science Quarterly, (2), 376. https://doi.org/10.1111/ssqu.12263
  5. Kershaw, J. A. (2005). Towards an Establishment Theory of Gay Personhood. Vanderbilt Law Review, 58(2), 555–597. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.ucs.louisiana.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?d irect=true&AuthType=ip,cookie,uid,url&db=a9h&AN=18367386&site=eds-live
  6. Lemeire, O., & De Block, A. (2015). Philosophy and the Biology of Male Homosexuality. Philosophy Compass, 10(7), 479–488. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.ucs.louisiana.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?d irect=true&AuthType=ip,cookie,uid,url&db=pif&AN=PHL2335383&site=eds-live
  7. Mbugua, K. (2015). Explaining Same-Sex Sexual Behavior: The Stagnation of the Genetic and Evolutionary Research Programs. Journal for General Philosophy of Science, 46(1), 23. Retrieved from
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  9. Motluk, A. (2003). The big brother effect: the more older brothers you have, the more likely you are to be gay. What’s going on. New Scientist, (2388), 44. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.ucs.louisiana.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?d irect=true&AuthType=ip,cookie,uid,url&db=edsgbc&AN=edsgcl.99772845&site=eds-live
  10. Rosenberg, K. P. (1994). Notes and Comments: Biology and Homosexuality. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 20(2), 147–151. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.ucs.louisiana.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?d irect=true&AuthType=ip,cookie,uid,url&db=sih&AN=24748556&site=eds-live
  11. Udo Schüklenk, Edward Stein, Jacinta Kerin, & William Byne. (1997). The Ethics of Genetic Research on Sexual Orientation. The Hastings Center Report, (4), 6. https://ezproxyprod.ucs.louisiana.edu:4128/10.2307/3528773


Cite this paper

Can Homosexuality be Biologically Based?. (2021, Apr 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/can-homosexuality-be-biologically-based/

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