Gay genes and the Daily Mail

Today it has been reported that scientists may have found a genetic link between predisposition to homosexuality and human genetics. I just want to put this here to remind people just how appalling some people’s attitudes to such stories are.

This is an extract from page 29 of the Daily Mail of 16 July 1993.

No further comment is necessary

Abortion hope after ‘gay genes’ findings

Jason Lewis


SCIENTISTS in America claim to have found the first definite evidence of a genetic link to homosexuality.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute, near Washington DC, say their findings help prove that sexual orientation can be inherited.

Isolation of the genes means it could soon be possible to predict whether a baby will be gay and give the mother the option of an abortion.

Dean Hamer, principal author of the study published in the American journal Science, said the results do not prove gay men were compelled by their genes to be homosexual. But he said the research showed sexual orientation is powerfully influenced by genes inherited from their mother.

‘This is the strongest evidence to date that there is an important genetic component to sexual orientation,’ said Hamer.

Evidence of a gay gene was found by studying chromosomes in 40 pairs of homosexual brothers. Thirty-three were found to share the same pattern variation.

The findings are likely to cause a storm among radical gay and pro-life groups, as well as medical interest groups already concerned about the ethics of research on human genes.

A similar search for a genetic basis for homosexuality in females is now underway, Mr Hamer said.

This latest study strengthens the argument by the gay community that homosexuality is not a matter of choice, but of biological destiny.

George Neighbors Jr, of the Federation of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in Washington, said…


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7 responses to “Gay genes and the Daily Mail”

  1. I’m not usre what your point is. Are you making one?

    1. My main point is that the Daily Mail prints some vile rubbish. And that this headline – which is widely reported on the Internet but often thought to be an urban myth – really existed.
      My subsidiary point is that while pure science has its own value, scientists cannot divorce themselves from the ways in which their research is used.

      1. You’re riffing on a publication. Cool. “Divorce” is a trigger word. I’m a metal fan and I am also from a country the Reds pwned.

  2. that was *sure* – correcting for typo

  3. I think further comment is indeed necessary.
    This is a case where the headline does not bear out the content of the article.

    I have not found a source for the whole article, but I have found reference to a book summarising media reporting of this study. Most reporting, even in the so-called ‘right wing’ press was supportive of gays and opposed discrimination, even in the vilified Daily Mail.

    The Nature of Difference: Science, Society and Human Biology (PBK) p107
    the article beneath the Daily Mail’s notorious and offensive headline: “Abortion Hope after ‘Gay Genes’ Finding” (July 16, 1993) is not quite what one might expect. The headline refers to abortion “hope”, but the article focuses on the abortion and screening fears raised as concerns by the gay community.
    In spite of intense attention to the idea that a gay gene test might lead to abortion, there is not a single example of anyone advocating abortion (as opposed to genetic therapy in utero) in any article or letter.

    Do read the extract of the book on Google Books, it is very interesting, and, to my mind heartening regarding people’s *actual* attitudes towards homosexuality.

    1. Headlines don’t appear at random. Indeed headlines are generally the responsibility of people further up the editorial chain than the journalists who wrote the story – thus the headline can be taken to represent a considered editorial position of the Daily Mail at that time.

      1. …possibly. But not according to the article I cited, which states that overall the reporting was pretty balanced.
        Do you have access to the whole article? I’d be interested to read it.

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